To Butter: A Love Letter
After years and years and years of posting about cheese, I woke up this morning and decided to write about butter. Or more specifically, to butter. This post is a love letter to butter. But unlike many love letters, this one is public. Feel free to read it, consider how its adoration fits into your own dairy devotion, or add your own notes of love or requests for my address so you can send me butter samples in the comment section.
I just wanted to say that, besides duck fat, you are my favorite fat. Lardo comes a close third. Extra virgin olive oil is also delicious. But if we were to rank, you'd be first not only because you're delicious, but also you are good to both cook with and slather on bread. Duck fat, not so much.
This love isn't new. I've been smitten with you all my life. When my aunt used to babysit me after elementary school and it came time to request after school snacks, my cousin would ask for apples and peanut butter. I would request a slice of bread spread half an inch high with butter. Then sometimes I would ask for a second slice, at which point my aunt would suggest I make my own, and then I'd mix it up by slicing a "pat" of cold butter from the fridge instead of just using her preferred room temperature stick. Variety! You always kept it fresh, butter.
And back then, you were just the butter next door. You were simple, rich, and wrapped into sticks with waxed paper. Now, you're pretty sophisticated. Some might say cultured. When I walk into a gourmet shop, dear butter, and see you there, all salted and bright yellow, cultured, often wrapped with artisan paper, and inspiring people to spend hard-earned dairy money on you, I tear up a little bit. Because you're worth it. But you were always worth it, butter.
Though until recently, not everyone thought so. Despite your deliciousness, you were damned because of puritanical fears. But now, dear butter, people realize your worth, and their own dairy bigotry. Even though I never needed a study to know how special you were, I was happy when they came out with this and this anyway.
I don't know if you know this, butter, but sometimes I like to make a cultured version of you. Here is a photo taken by my friend Molly DeCoudreaux of Co-chef Cortney Burns at Bar Tartine making you (for an article for Culture magazine), with Burns's recipe to culture you.
In closing, I wanted to say that you make my world better. I love you more than duck fat on my bread.
(In case you're wondering, that lovely butter pictured at top is Animal Farm's jersey milk butter. And nope, I didn't make it more yellow in photoshop. Some of my other favorites American butters are McClelland Euro butter with sea salt, FarmHouse Kitchens hand-rolled Amish butter, Sierra Nevada Butter, and Vermont Creamery's cultured butter. To start.)