We may feel the empowered reassurance that we are in charge of our destiny, and our burger, but I shall not mince words: the choices are not ours. We take what we’re given, and pretend otherwise. (And according to statistics, *ladies*, it’s seems our pretending carries over, rather consistently, into tres delicate territory.)
Having said that, I, for one, have learned to accept this sad reality, that most offerings may never really cater to my hankerings. I generally acquiesce without much fight. WE generally acquiesce without much fight. But, fellow pushovers, there’s one offense I just cannot abide. An unfathomable bastardization. A slippery slope. A crime that will make your stomach churn.
Sit down with me, my treat.
This is no small town diner, I’m sure you can tell. It’s one of the roughly 200,000 “fine-dining” establishments that the US has to offer. Look around and notice the linens, silverware, clientele; this is a place for upper-middle class regulars. People who like to pretend they know what they’re doing. People who like to spend.
There’s Ms. Bumblygag, lovely old woman, known for her collection of spoons and 287 cats that have turned every room into a bathroom. And, look! There’s Mr. Crudite with his lovely (7th) wife, a beloved classmate of his great-great-granddaughter. Ah, and there’s Mr. Cumberbunt. He is quite the oenophile, isn’t he: the delicate handling of the stem, the sip, a subtle gargle. He knows his stuff. Anyone who know’s him says, “Look, it’s Mr. Cumberbunt, there’s a man who knows his stuff.” Seems like he’s chosen the chateaubriand with pan-seared foix gras. Well done, Mr. Cumberbunt. Well done.
With menu closed, napkin placed neatly on his ill-fitting suit leg, he’s waiting for a loaf of that lovely artisanal sunflower-rye artisan hot-artisan-from-the-oven artisanal bread. And, here it comes. There’s even a little dish of butter molded to resemble the shape of a cherub burn-victim. He smiles and cuts down into the butter.
He smiles as the butter intuitively stays glued to the knife blade, the result of conflicting temperatures, but he finally works it onto the slice.
He smiles as the force of his knife begins to flatten any aeration the yeast worked so hard to create.
He smiles as he tears holes in the broken body: the pat of butter, an island, surrounded by rips and tiny insignificant streaks of milk-fat that tried to break away.
He smiles even though the butter is fucking cold. Again. Cold. Cold. Cold. Unspreadable and indecent. But, Mr Cumberbunt is smiling; he goes through this painful presentation without a question or care. Mr Cumberbunt is American.
Maybe I’m being overly judgmental and petty; after all, it’s only butter…
But that’s the point! It’s butter! It’s simple! And we get it wrong. Every. Time.
If we took our fine gentleman, changed his name to Cumberbunier, and delivered him to Lyon or Geneva, it would be considered sacrilege to present a patron with butter-flavored ice cream. But every day, at a table near you, this crock is perpetuated without a tablespoon of logical thought to clarify the stupidity.
Some restaurants remedy this by serving whipped butter, which is to butter what ice cream is to gelato. An experiment in aeration lacking the richness and taste; spreadable but flavorless. A kind of buttery tease that disintegrates the second it mixes with saliva. A ‘now you taste me, now you don’t.’
But, you see, you don’t have to suffer this frozen fat patty or double-whipped fakery!
Western civilization implores you, fellow Americans: go out and buy some butter and let it sit on your counter of an afternoon. Play a round of tennis, learn to ride a unicycle, go out and spend your hard-earned money on a matching toilet rug set. When you come back with a fresh loaf of bread and a decent bottle of Malbec, enjoy the experience of applying butter as it was intended. Go ahead, finish the whole loaf.
See, doesn’t it feel good to stop faking? At least outside of the bedroom.