Monday, May 08, 2006


Update: Butter

Commenting on my previous post, MT and Lena both ask something to the effect of "what does butter sound like?"

Do you remember Mike Meyer's SNL routine where he impersonates his Jewish mother-in-law and repeatedly uses the catch phrase "it's like butter"? (Since she has a New York accent, she says "buttah.") It was her catchall word to mean "excellent," "nice" "elegant" or "high quality."

Meyer's Jewish Mother in Law probably descends from the same eastern European peasant stock that I do. In my ancestors' diet of potatoes and, if you're lucky, maybe a beet or two, they had too little animal fat. Maybe a little bit of chicken fat sometimes. Lard over in the goyim village. In this dietary context -- a world away from our high fat society -- butter was the Cadillac of animal fat.

I suppose the nearest thing to "like buttah" in current slang would be "like money."

Oh, and by the way, butter sounds smooth and creamy.

GOTCHA! I just got this icky visual of butter being smeared on your windshield and thought "now, that just can't be right..."
I miss Mike Myers on SNL, it's just not the same without him...
... now I'm a little verklempt.
Actually (if you will pardon the utter food-nerdiness of the note), our shtetl-dwelling ancestors relied on goose fat. At least according to Claudia Roden's magisterial The Book of Jewish Food.

It's a fascinating book. Like buttah.
So how did the eastern European peasants sound? They said not"'buttah" or goose grease but "?".

Still can't put my finger on what butter sounds like. Like butter being spread on toast? Like taking a bite out a stick of butter? Like butter squishing between your toes?
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