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Jul 8, 2008 08:36 AM

I Don't Really Care For Butter On My Bread

I don't mind butter on bread, I have nothing against it... I am the type of guy that chooses 2 1/2 star hotels when I travel on expense just so that I can make myself a 1/4 waffle with 3 pats of real butter....

But if I am eating a quality, hearty, tasty bread I think butter dumbs it down, and detracts from the complex, almost warrior like qualities of a good loaf of bread.

Southern European bread is different... (some ignorant people accuse typical Italian, Spanish or Portugese breads of being tasteless, hard etc., without really understanding)... its made for Olive Oil.... the oil is the big deal in many regions... the bread is just a vehicle... and shouldn't get in the way....

But I feel Northern / Central European style breads... well its all about the bread itself... butter is just historically a peasant addition to get more calories & vital lipids in the diet. But we don't toil the fields all day... so butter is irrelevent to me.

Am I the only one... or do I have some bretheren out there?

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  1. I never put butter on bread, but that's because I don't like the taste of "uncooked" butter, for lack of a better description.

    9 Replies
    1. re: MMRuth

      Have you tried adequately salted butter? I can see how unsalted butter may taste "uncooked" but I feel that properly salted butter enhances the bread experience.

      1. re: Miss Needle

        It's been a life long thing - it's the consistency as well as the taste. My mother and sister are the same way, my brother not so because my grandmother caught him early on and taught him to butter toast. And, buttered toast is much, much worse than cold butter on bread!

        1. re: MMRuth

          Oh no! Buttered toast is one of the greatest joys in life -- biting into the crunchy bread with good melted salted butter in the crevices. Oh well, at least you're saving a whole bunch of calories! : )

      2. re: MMRuth

        That's funny, me too - butter must be melted always. Although pretty funny story - when I was in Paris, I ordered an appetizer of (I thought) meats and cheeses and proceeded to eat this wonderful cheese. I was saying things like "oh, this is so smooth and dainty flavor" when my son tried it and said "Mom, that's solid butter". Eeeeek, suddenly I didn't like it. You talk about psychologically generated taste buds. I usually will eat most everything but for some reason, knowing it's solid butter makes me cringe.

        1. re: lexpatti

          My two year-old will eat solid butter and it's hard to watch, even though I know it's only a step removed from a nice fatty cheese, as you found out.

          1. re: julesrules

            My 20 month old uses a small piece of bread to lick off a big chunk of butter... then proceeds to ask for more buhlluh ... I celebrate her eating because her body realizes that she needs more fat now that she has weaned to cow milk (which is naturally higher in protein & lower in fat than human milk).

            Kids are absolutely amazing when it comes to food if we don't ruin it with our dysfunctional food rules.

            1. re: Eat_Nopal

              I agree my kid can eat as much fat as she wants (for now anyway). That's why I don't stop her from eating the butter off the bread, although we do limit how much we give her. But I do find it amazing to observe the differences between kids. Mine loves pizza... but only the toppings! She leaves the crust. A friend's two year-old picks off the toppings and only eats the crust. And they consistently follow this protein/fat vs. carbs pattern. I don't think it can all be explained by differences in parents' attittude, food choices etc. I remember LOVING all kids of fat (and sugar, but that's pretty universal) from a young age and so does my daughter. I do believe there's a genetic component.
              Last night she had a little tummy pain after eating all that meat and cheese off a pizza crust... I was gently explaining that one eats vegetables and fruits to help with that particular problem (she's not going to understand fibre or whole grain). She immediately looked at me and said, "The pizza hurt my tummy!".

              1. re: julesrules

                Mine seems to get a balanced diet over time. Some days she exists on pasta and rice, the next day it will be all salami, hot dog or prosciutto... other days its scrambled eggs... some days she mostly eats a ton of fruits or vegetables. So far she has a wide palette and likes most things... I like to brag about her consumption of lamb shanks, chicken pate, deep fried shrimp, celery, carrots etc., etc.,

                The only rule we follow is that we set the example... she can ask for anything we have in the house... if we bring in cookies, chocolate bars & candies... well that is our fault but we aren't going to restrict anything she sees us consuming... well we don't let her have wine, beer or spirits... particularly after I let her taste my Belgian Ale so that she would stop asking for that "agua"... I thought she would be turned off it.. but she immediately asked for more... so no more of that!

                1. re: Eat_Nopal

                  For beer/wine, you could always do a variation on the normal Italian thing: at Sunday dinner the little ones get a bit of wine in their water (maybe a teaspoon). Older children get a bit more, and my the time they're 14 or so they get a small glass. The idea is that it's not enough that they could get intoxicated.

      3. I love bread and butter. Not warm bread, but fresh -- with very good, slightly soft butter. I could eat it every day. I certainly don't, but I could! And to be honest, I'm not crazy about the olive oil on bread thing.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Glencora

          I love both good butter and good olive oil on good bread—don't think they detract at all but enhance.

          Ditto pork fat like they used (or still do) serve at Cafe Polonia in South Boston.

        2. Maybe not brethren, but sistren. My wife, a connoisseur of heavy, hearty loaves, rarely butters her bread unless it's toasted. I, on the other hand, am a Kerrygold devotee, spread thick on fresh artisanal rye - mmmmm...

          But it's your line about the "warrior like" quality of bread that caught my eye. It's a striking image, yet somehow disturbing - I want my bread to stay passive when I bite it, not start waving a double-headed war axe at my tongue!

          1. Growing up in a throughly Italian family, I had never heard of olive oil on bread. In Bagna Cauda for veggie or bread dipping, but not as a condiment of itself for bread. In our house, my mother would serve what she called "sweet butter," meaning unsalted and it was delicious on just baked crusty Scali sliced or broken at the table. I still love that simple serving. But to be fair, bread "is just the vehicle" for many sauces not just EVOO.

            14 Replies
            1. re: Gio

              >>I had never heard of olive oil on bread.

              Nope, and I have no use for it still. Grilled back in the kitchen and served hot, yes. But dipped at the table? Blech.

              But butter. Ah butter. Sweet, salted, doesn't matter. Butter on bread, bagels, toast, big globs of it. Butter smooshed together with cinammon and brown sugar on toast, yum. Grilled cheese awash in butter, yum.

              Never mind the butter on potatoes, pancakes, waffles, and the like, also yum.

              But bread without butter? A nice crusty Italian bread with a soft 'mudiga' perhaps, but that's only because the butter wouldn't spread.

              Ah, the joys of butter.

              1. re: dolores

                Crusty Italian breadsticks dipped into EVOO w/a swirl of balsamic is wonderful

              2. re: Gio

                Hi Gio... I am curious about your regional Italian ancestry because Italians that I know from Palermo & Lecce... eat Olive Oil like its a staple... a little bit of bread is used to sop up a generous pour of distinctive oils.

                1. re: Eat_Nopal

                  Hey EN... Oh well - The South!! Now we know. JK

                  Mother's family from Puglio....Bari, but moved to Trieste when she was just a babe in arms. Father's family from Campania...Torre Le Nocelle in the mountains.

                  1. re: Gio

                    So does your family consider themselves to be northern Italian, Gio, where butter is used more than olive oil?

                    (I love Puglia, btw.)

                    1. re: greedygirl

                      Yes, GG, VeryVery northern. :-)

                      (and... yes, it's Puglia. I think I misspelled everything I typed yesterday...)

                  2. re: Eat_Nopal

                    Interesting. My Grandfather is off the boat Sicillian and we never had olive oil on bread. I had never heard of it until it became big in the early 90's among chain restaurants. I suppose that's why I don't care for it.

                    Butter, for me, is a glorious thing. Smooth, creamy goodness. Nothing tastes better than a thick slather of creamy butter on a baguette stuffed with prosciutto. Mmmmm.

                  3. re: Gio


                    There is an old time family Italian resto in Jfood home town that serves neither butter nor oil at the table for bread. Just an extra large shaker of Parm cheese. Do you know the history of this custom?


                    1. re: jfood

                      I honestly don't know, Jfood. There are so many Italo-American customs here that never saw light of day in The Old Country. It was a matter of not finding the same ingredients here and making do with what one did find. Then there is the issue of regional differences which we've discussed here in the past.

                      Is the cheese there on the table specifically for the bread or is the shaker there for diners to add extra cheese to the pasta? I've seen that here as well.

                      1. re: Gio

                        it is there for the bread, the pizza, the pasta, and the best ravioli in the country, no hyperbole on the ravioli. It is in the back of a neighborhood bar, has the lasagne made every morning my the grandma and after little league on sundays the sounds are the metal cleats on the wood floor and kids laughing.

                        Boy jfood misses this place.

                        1. re: jfood

                          Oh that sounds like neighborhood trattorias I remember as a child!
                          The Fernwood....Owned by the father and the whole family worked there. His wife Maria sat on a stool between the kitchen and the dining room and nothing was served till she had inspected everything on the tray going out. Do these places still exist?

                          Nothing was on the table, though, except the usual utensils and a jar of red pepper flakes.

                        2. re: Gio

                          I grew up around a lot of old school Neopolitans. No butter or oil (never saw that until about 20 years ago but I have to admit I like it) but were known to sprinkle a little red wine vinegar and dried oregano on crusty Italian bread. Other than that it's used to sop up "gravy". I loved salted Breakstone's in the waxy tub as a kid in NYC. Do they still sell that?

                          1. re: southernitalian

                            My father used to stand over the simmering tomato sauce with a hunk of Italian bread happily dunking till mother would run him out of the kitchen. We had Breakstones too. I haven't looked for it in ages..
                            We're going shopping today, I'll have to see if it's still being sold.

                            I must say I hardly ever see the dipping oil on tables ar restaurants we go to. Todd English's Figs restaurant was the first place I saw it a few years ago, but it was more like a Bagna Cauda. Personally, I hardly ever eat bread before or during a meal....bread salad being a recent exception.

                        3. re: jfood

                          Interesting. I am from a town in NE PA and all the family-owned Italian restos (there are lots) serve the individually-wrapped pats of butter, but more importantly, they also serve the bread w/ a small bowl of canned banana peppers in olive oil. Every family back home claims to have the best canned peppers. Some add garlic and oregano, sliced olives, etc. They are highly-coveted by those of us that don't live there anymore and refuse to try our hand at canning!

                      2. I've always preferred the flavor of margarine to butter (only if uncooked), but was never really one for buttering bread. I've actually been meaning to try the "Smart Balance" spreads (mostly for the wife and kids) but am trying to get away from foods which are engineered. I'm more apt to make an oilve oil dip if I feel like something extra, but am very satisfied with a good crusty loaf of Tuscan or French bread by itself.