A Reflection on My Family’s Butter Consumption

My family eats butter like they’re all stoned. Laughing and giggling to themselves about how much they’re eating, they take up their table knives and lash out at the butter again and again. They sigh and moan to themselves as they consume it tablespoon by tablespoon.

This morning at breakfast, my sister was eating a Gluten-free Chocolate Muffin Miracle my mom had baked. Correction: she was eating two tablespoons of butter with half of a Gluten-free Chocolate Muffin Miracle underneath it. She looked down at the concoction on her plate, and kind of hemmed and hawed to herself, then said: “hey, could I get some more butter? My butter to muffin ratio is not where I want it.”

Not only did she accidentally come up with a rather wild & wacky “That’s What She Said,” she also prompted this helpful reminder to pay attention to your ratios.

As Michael Ruhlman said, "Once you have the ratio, the variations are infinite." Have you experimented with butter:muffin?

As Michael Ruhlman said, “Once you have the ratio, the variations are infinite.” Have you experimented with butter:muffin? Perhaps try more butter to muffin?

I went over to my parent’s house for brunch recently (it was really a late lunch, but it was eggs & Gluten-free Muffin Miracles, so y’know…brunch) (to continue the sidebar: I’m going to go ahead and say that gluten-free people eat brunch more often than any other diet-group. Breakfast lends itself readily to gluten-free food I’d say. Then again, I’m basing this off my family and they’re batty)…

Let’s start that paragraph over.

I went over to my parent’s house for brunch recently. We ate a frittata and Gluten-free Muffin Miracles my mom had baked. I catch up with my folks about work, about pie, about Florida, about how Michigan has already been in the shitter forever, about drinking and driving laws, and then I started crying about Matty Moroun or something, and as I got up to grab a hankie I realized that my parents had probably consumed an entire stick of butter while we’d been chatting. In fact, I should have guessed that they were going to pull this sort of shenanigan from the start, because as my mother was serving the frittata she said, with a rather sneaky look on her face, “I’ll give myself less…for I shall put butter on mine.” She giggled and sat down and proceeded to butter her frittata. (Butter:Frittata )

When I was a kid, I was really cocky about how little butter I would put on things. I don’t know why I gave a shit to be honest. Their butter consumption wasn’t hurting me in anyway – I just immediately saw it as a real dork move and wanted to separate myself from the herd.

Everyone would pass around the butter, dunking their faces into the dish, and then I would get the dish and announce “EVERYONE. CHECK THIS OUT. I’M USING A SLIGHT SCRAPING OF BUTTER.” And then I would proceed to just barely scratch the surface of whatever starch we were allowed to eat at the time with only the slightest amount of butter. Absolutely no one paid attention, and I realized that I would just have to get through every meal keeping my criticisms to myself and every single one of my online friends I would chat with immediately after dinner. “Oh my gosh. My family EATS A LOT OF BUTTER AND ARE SUPER INTO IT,” says 12 year old me, via AIM.

I was being a real twat about butter. Obviously I was wrong. But I’m still not prepared to say that they’re right.

Margarine has always been right out. My grandma used margarine. It was always awkward eating at her house when it came time to butter our rolls. Obviously, we weren’t “buttering” anything. We were spreading vegetable ideas.  This would instigate a lot of eye-rolling and discontented roll-eating from my family, despite how much we loved our grandma.

My favorite margarine related memory (because I have those) was while on vacation with my family. My oldest sister was going through some  rebellious phase and had decided that margarine was better for her (she doesn’t think that anymore.) My mom found the margarine in the fridge and whipped it out.

“What is this??” She asked.

“It’s uh…it’s mine.” Said my sister.

“NO. NO. I would…” my mom stumbled for a second then recovered, “I would rather have a daughter who is a smoker than a daughter who eats margarine!”

Since I was a smoker at the time, I knew the comment was directed at me, so I went ahead and said, “yeah, hey! At least I don’t eat margarine!” and high-fived myself out of that scenario.

At this point, I feel like I’m a liberal butter user. It’s one of three pillars of my crust making (my crust is a strange looking building). Sometimes I won’t bother eating bread if I don’t have butter (Depends on the bread. Depends on the menstrual cycle. Depends on who’s in the room). Sometimes I’ll squirt a little extra clarified butter on my scrambled eggs, post-scramble, pre-consumption, and still butter my toast. But, truly, all that does for me is make me scared that I’ve completely ended my rebellion and am now slipping down the buttery slope my family went down first.

Butter Slope is not an evil place; Butter Slope is barely even a bad place. But Butter Slope is the place that is inhabited by people who send their waiters back to the kitchen at least 4 times during a meal to fetch them more butter, and then instruct them “Ok. Just keep it coming.” Butter Slope is the place where your family meets your boyfriend for the first time, and they greet him by saying “Hey! We’re having a butter tasting!” Fortunately, that boyfriend was kinda down with the idea, but I lucked out that time.

I shouldn’t make fun of them too much for the butter tasting, because I walked away from that realizing that I was pretty lucky to have a family who sat around discussing the flavor profiles of different butters & musing over the sort of grasses the cows ate, without any self-consciousness. I’d love to say that my family’s butter consumption is “not normal,” but that immediately implies some sort of cosmic order of normalcy, which I’ve yet to see any evidence of, except for my family’s butter consumption…but that sort of logic gets people locked up.


(all photo credit goes to Joe Rybarczyk)