Regardless of whether your butter leanings align with sweet cream, cultured or European style, we are in the midst of a butter crisis. Butter's high price tag plus its elusive showing in grocer's dairy aisles is a multi-faceted issue, driven by both supply and labor shortages, not to mention the increasing costs of feeding and maintaining cows. If you feel inconvenienced, just imagine how dire this is for farmers, retailers and anyone tethered to butter for their livelihood. With the fragrance of pumpkin spice hovering in the air, it is just a matter of weeks before you'll be counting on Butter to star in your holiday bakes only to find she's not there. Where is she, you ask? Apparently, the new "It" Girl of the holiday entertainment season is a current trend known as the Butter Board. From what I have seen, and if offered a free monthly pass, I still wouldn't board the Butter Board Train.
I own two wooden cutting boards; a rectangular version made by Dansk, relegated to serving/slicing the occasional beef brisket, petit filet or London Broil. In close proximity resides a square wooden checkerboard of cherry and pine, just large enough to accommodate my preferred cheese offerings, a cello-sleeve’s worth of crackers and a few grape clusters. (Charcuterie boards, though tempting, are not the sort of thing I assemble on a regular basis.) The Dansk rectangular surface is certainly spacious enough to accommodate a party’s worth of thinly sliced meats and pinwheels of cheese, even a casual arrangement of olives, figs and nuts. But rest assured, the board with its wide lip for catching au jus stays in its meat lane. And I only invite the cheese board to wine and cheese gatherings. I am bewildered to learn that circling a board slathered in butter is a form of hospitality.
Is our fear of missing out so disproportionate to reality that schmearing excesses of butter across a board is now considered a craft? I thought making poms-poms out of wool was a craft. Paint by number, also a craft. Ditto weaving a potholder, cutting up magazines to create Modge Podge collages. But please, do not fill your shopping cart with pounds of butter for the sole purpose of butter boarding it. I might add that the reason butter dishes and butter bells were invented was to protect butter from pesky flies, wayward sneezes, and to keep it fresh before the advent of refrigeration. I’m flummoxed by the idea because I don’t like everyone hovering around some perfectly good butter that is, in my opinion, better suited to a pie crust or a scone or melting atop a mountain of popcorn.
If you are considering hopping on the Butter Board Express, do so with the understanding that the cost of butter is inching steadily skyward. In September of this year, butter was $4.70 per pound compared with $3.67 in January of the same year; stats provided by the Consumer Price Index Report. According to the US Dept of Agriculture (a serious group who keeps track of butter particulars), our cold storage “strategic butter reserves” are on the downward spiral. All of this means bakers in professional kitchens and at home will have some tough decisions to make in the next few months. Seems to me an easy decision is letting the Butter Board Express roll in and out of the station without taking any passengers and retiring it alongside Perfection Salad.
Professional Pie-isms & Seasonal Sarcasm