Sunday, August 25, 2013

Week 34: Butter

   The book-of-the-week for week 34 is titled Butter. It was made to go with the pottery butter dish shown below. The butter dish was made from low fired red earthenware clay, then painted with colored underglazes, and finally fired with a clear glaze. It's about 5 inches in diameter and about 4 inches tall.

scenes of an ancient asian landscape are painted on the outside...
Lift the lid and inside is the little book Butter. Shaped like a block of butter, the marbled paper pages covering 2-inch squares of book board are meant to resemble sliced pats of butter.  The text was printed on the letterpress with Ionic typeface in 14-point font.... and its all about the butter!  Chapter 1 of the book is titled, Butter Rhyme...

Butter Rhyme

Butter on biscuits
Butter on toast
Butter on hot rolls
I love the most!

a sonet to butter leads to Chapter 2. Butter Facts 
     Wikipedia states that butter is made by churning fresh or fermented milk (or cream) from cows, sheep, goats, buffalo, or yaks. Preservatives, salt, and flavorings can be added to butters too. Honey butter, herb butters and salted butter are most common... When butter is rendered the butter is clarified... which is almost 100% butter fat. This is called ghee... common in India's cuisine...and probably why India is number one in butter consumption...  But butter is popular all over! There have even been movies made about butter.  In 2011 the movie Butter (no relation to this book Butter) was released starring Hugh Jackman and Jennifer Gardner. I rented it on Netflicks...It's funny! So check it out at

   After the opening sonnet, there are two chapters on Butter Facts and More Butter Facts. Most likely, there should be a couple more chapters on Butter Facts. The history of butter goes way back.. Butter (as ghee) has been a symbol of purity and an offering to the gods of early Hindu cultures for over 3000 years. In Scandinavian countries during the Middle Ages butter was made for commerce. In warmer European climates it was a common food source but had a low reputation. In Ireland it was put in kegs and buried in Irish peat bogs for years. (It's still being dug up!) It was even used as lamp oil. Slowly, butter became accepted by the upper classes, especially since the Catholic Church said it was ok to eat it during lent. By the 18th century the French had developed a world-class cuisine with butter as one of the main staples... along with wine... ahhhh. Really, who can argue that a french croissant isn't one of the greatest foods EVER? It wins every argument just by being so delicious and unexplainably flakey.

Chapter 4. Butter Words
Butter has worked its way into our palate and our culture in many ways. Chapter 4 lists a number of words with butter as the root...  just saying butter is fun. Which is probably why there is an English tongue twister about butter and a lady named Betty Botta...

Chapter 5. Betty Botta's Better Batter
Betty Botta's Better Batter

Betty Botta bought some butter;
"But," said she, "this butter's bitter!

If I put it in my batter
It will make my batter bitter.

But a bit of better butter
Will but make my batter better."

Then she bought a bit of butter
Better than the bitter butter,
Made her bitter batter better.

So ´twas better Betty Botta
bought a bit of better butter.

And the last chapter is a simple butter haiku...

   Who doesn't remember pulling a buttercup stem from a tuft growing in your backyard and holding it under your best friend's chin to determine if she liked butter. It was a little girl's version of a magic trick. ...and much easier then juggling.

Though there are many health reasons to limit butter in your diet... without it life wouldn't be quite so delicious!