It was a proud feat when my father, one in a sibline of 15 raised in meager conditions, could finally afford a home for his wife and four children. A house equipped with electricity, refrigeration and inside bathroom facilities. All the amenities he lacked as a child and worked with steadfast fervor to obtain. But there were some things he would never do and some things he would never do without as a result of this experience. He rarely camped, as it resembled a way of life he worked hard to overcome. And….he never substituted margarine, though the cheaper alternative, for butter. Butter, in this vein, was a marker of success. One of my earliest memories as a young girl was climbing the chairs of the kitchen table in the early morning when my father left for work, to allow my tiny fingers to seek the butter dish left out for my fathers toast. The silky, smooth rich taste of butter was to me what candy was for most my age.
It would please you to know I now keep my fingers out of the butter dish, however it is still a coveted staple in my kitchen. Did you know the origins of butter dates back 10,000 ago? It was used in religious ceremonies and was valued cosmetically in ancient Rome. It was even esteemed as a cure for ailments. Clarified butter represented the ultimate development of the Buddha spirit during the T’ang Dynasty in China. The ancient Irish and Scots mixed it with garlic and buried it in barrels, as the longer it sat the more flavourful it became. It was essentially, “a food fit for the gods”. For me it is a likened treasure.
Gently melted with garlic, it marries the mirepoix providing the foundation to many soups and stocks. A few cold tablespoons of cold butter can be used to emulsify my favourite sauces. The slow steady stream of melted butter adds the silky texture to hollandaise. Its usages endlessly varied and revered. Butter is without a doubt one of my most preferred sources of fat.