buttery beginnings

It’s hard for me to say exactly when it began. My love affair with butter, that is. I came to notice obvious signs of dependency when my dad had to start making special trips to Costco for oversized butter supplies before I could comfortably come stay for a weekend. And the fact that I discovered a perfectly wrapped, chilled cube of the stuff in my stocking Christmas morning last year forced me to acknowledge the reality of my addiction.

With the help of my dad’s rather obvious hints, I came to realize that the roots of my butter habit run deep. (So deep, in fact, that I survived the healthy-butter-substitute phase of the nineties and landed safely in adulthood with a faint yellow cube perched neatly atop its dish on my kitchen counter.) Certainly it was destiny: butter and I. The evidence of kismet looms large.

When I examine my childhood, I find a whole host of butter-infused memories that all occur before my fifth birthday. I recall things like the square of butter that my home away from home, Pero’s Restaurant, would leave to melt atop my half order of oatmeal. Or the way that just the right amount of butter would dissolve the sugar in my grandmother’s rolled up crepes. Or the garlic butter that I would slather on piping hot sourdough bread at the Spaghetti Factory, as I sucked down my browned butter- and mizithra-topped noodles from my seat in the trolley.

Like most relationships, my infatuation with butter has also had an ugly side at times. I find that when we come to love something, we become snobbish in defense of the thing we love and our need to have it.

While I was in college near Chicago, my boyfriend and I drove to Iowa for a weekend to stay with his parents, who, to my utter dismay, only kept margarine in the fridge. To show my appreciation for their welcoming hospitality, I had planned to make dinner for the family, but when the realization struck me that I would have to use margarine to prepare our meal, my heart sank. I froze. I felt all the apparent evils of abandoning my buttery ways in support of some hydrogenated oil substitute, and my food offering was, in the end, tainted by my stubbornness. Looking back, I can only be thankful for the grace Mrs. Greiner showed me in the face of such snobbery and hang my head in shame at the recollection of my bad behavior.

In the eight years that have passed since that weekend, I have seriously considered, more than once, writing a heartfelt apology on the subject, though I’ve never put pen to paper. Then again, maybe that’s a little bit of what I’m doing here: paying homage to the way butter has shaped my cooking experiences and my past, both for better and for worse. I like to think of it as chronicling: we all live as part of a grand story, but sometimes the simple fat-filled things in life are what make it so wonderful.

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2 Comments

  1. Dad
    Posted July 3, 2009 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    I am very, very excited that Theresa’s coming to visit next week!!! Excuse me for dashing off now, I need to go to Costco.
    Dad

  2. Posted July 14, 2009 at 3:16 am | Permalink

    mmmmmm. butterrrr.

    you blogged! and i read it! hooray!

    now do it again.


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