Food Traditions: Butter

Butter, once described as “the most delicate of food among barbarous nations”, is by far the most impractical and illogical way to preserve bovine nutrients. So why does it exist? Why do we consume it on a daily basis? And how are there weeks dedicated to this irrational food all over the world?

Butter today is not how it’s always been. Actually, butter how we know it wasn’t invented until 1000 years after the original, as cattle weren’t domesticated at the time. When butter was first made, it was made from goat’s milk. The milk was wrapped in the goat/ sheepskin, filled with air and whacked for a couple of weeks until it ‘churned’ into butter.

Now doesn’t that sound delicious? 

Whether it sounds it or not, billions of people consume it on a daily basis, it’s considered a “staple”. Galen, the Greek physician, considered butter as a medicinal resource, a cure for dry lungs. Indians have been using Ghee since the first century, it’s the original clarified butter. The French have based most of their national dishes on butter, they swear the more fat there is in the butter, the better it tastes. Who can argue with that?

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Christians, who observe lent, abstain from dairy products for the whole period. Therefore, the week/ day before is normally met with over-indulgence of forbidden foods. Hence Shrove Tuesday and… Russian Pancake Week (Maslenitsa), a similar tradition to Shrove Tuesday, but for an entire week. They like to keep crepes simple, so traditionally they only serve them with jam or smoked salmon with dill. This week, Kensington Creperie will be doing the same. This tradition falls on the last week before Lent. It’s normally dubbed the ‘sun-festival’, a celebration for the end of winter. Very thin crepes are normally served for Russian Pancake Week (also known as Butter Week), using incredibly rich ingredients such as… yes you guessed it, butter.

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The emergence of bullet-proof coffee has proven that butter, as fatty as it may be, is actually useful in a number of ways. David Asprey, the creator of bulletproof coffee and a self-declared bio-hacker has discovered that butter is actually good for you, “your hormones are made of saturated fat, your brain is made of fat, and the membrane of every cell in your body is made of fat,” so next time you’re thinking about a low-fat diet, think about the benefits of not only butter, but fat in general.

Whether we like it or not this key ingredient has shaped all corners of the globe, from religion to science, culture to medicine, butter is and has always been, a constant.

Now, let’s celebrate Maslenitsa in style with KC.

 

 

 

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