Thursday, November 18, 2010

Butter and Me.

I have a complicated relationship with butter.  I had high cholesterol as a child and a mom who believes that fat = the devil.  In high school, I started baking on my own and began to understand something that is entirely separate from fat and cholesterol and calories:  I don't really like butter.

I don't add butter to things - MIL Barefoot was appalled that I didn't butter my toast before adding jam, Mr. Barefoot was confused that I don't put butter on a cheese and tomato sandwich (seriously? gross), I put syrup on my pancakes but it doesn't occur to me to break out the butter.  Sometimes I make a buttery noodles dish with Parmesan and yes, I like butter on toast.  When I bake cookies, I often search for a recipe that doesn't involve a sickening amount of butter (I don't like them if they taste too buttery).  If a recipe involves more than two sticks of butter, I typically steer clear.  As a health student, I hang on to the teaching about saturated versus unsaturated fats, so I usually pick olive oil over butter.

I read a number of cooking blogs - some that think that butter is unhealthy, some think that it is crucial and that nothing tastes good unless you use butter.  Such bloggers take the Paula Dean approach - scolding the rest of us for not using butter.  Some go another step and say things like, "what does low-fat mean?"  I know a few people who act like this too, and then complain about how many fat people there are.

As a person who used to be considered "obese" and now fluctuates between "overweight" and "normal", I'm sensitive to these attitudes, because I think they create an unhealthy dichotomy.  Some people act like they eat a full stick of butter every day, and it makes people like me feel like they got the short end of the stick, metabolism wise.  Which, frankly, a lot of us did.  But we don't need it rubbed in our faces like that.

My point with all of this is: I don't cook with a lot of butter.  And every Thanksgiving, I have a series of conversations about the use of butter in cooking.  I firmly believe that there is very little at Thanksgiving that requires as much butter as people put into it.  I also think that people use Thanksgiving as an excuse to overindulge and make food with at least six sticks of butter.  Which isn't necessary, because frankly, if you add enough salt and garlic to anything, it will still be delicious.


  1. I feel like you just exactly described my relationship with sugar. My mom was very anti-sugar, I don't add sugar to my grapefruit or my coffee or to anything else that other people add it to, I avoid recipes that seem like they use too much of it, and I don't like overly sugary sweets. (Note: I also hate artificial sweeteners.) But I feel like that's more acceptable, somehow, than cutting out butter -- I've heard the same kind of disdainful "you HAVE to use REAL BUTTER in EVERYTHING" talk you're describing but I haven't heard similar comments about sugar. I wonder why that is?

  2. I haven't heard people freak over using butter before, but I have heard people go on and on about other foods: natural/ organic/ sugar/ salt/ fast food/ prepared foods. I choose to eat a certain way, but by no means do I think everyone needs to eat what I do nor do I chastise them for their choices.