When I was a child at home, before the invention of ‘spreadable’ butter we had block butter and block margarine for cooking and baking – I guess because margarine was cheaper. When I left home as a student, butter was beyond our means as we lived on our grants so we always had margarine, although soon there were butter-style margarines about. (We were so fortunate then to have tuition fees paid and maintenance grants – but that’s a whole different topic to write about!)
I guess I got used to margarine, but ‘used to‘ is about it – it wasn’t just the flavour, but it was the texture, the mouth-feel as they say. There is just something slimy about margarine and these days there are some very good non-dairy spreads about, but they all have that greasy slimy feel on the tongue… which is strange because butter is just dairy fat so why it is different maybe only a chemist could tell you!
We have butter at home, although we do also have ‘softer’ butter too – spreadable but made from 100% milk products. I bake with a margarine, like my mum did, but butter goes into mashed potato, onto vegetables and to fry some things, like mushrooms. We use olive oil too, lots and lots – possibly too much…
I can’t now remember what made me think of butter this morning, but I had the phrase ‘better with a bit of butter‘ in my head; on looking it up I found there was a rhyme about ‘Betty bought a bit of butter‘ or ‘Betty Botter bought a bit of butter‘. I’d never heard of it but found it came from a rhyme written by the American poet and writer Carolyn Wells who was born in 1862 and lived to be eighty. Her rhyme was eventually included in the Mother Goose collection –
Betty Botta bought some butter;
“But,” she said, “this butter’s bitter!
If I put it in my batter
It will make my batter bitter.
But a bit o’ better butter
Will but make my batter better.”
Then she bought a bit o’ butter
Better than the bitter butter,
Made her bitter batter better.
So ’twas better Betty Botta
Bought a bit o’ better butter.
Someone called Sam Robertson wrote this version:
This is Sam Robertson’s version.
Betty Botta bought a bit of bitter butter and she put that bitter butter in her batter and it made her batter bitter so Betty Botta bought a bit of better butter and she put that bit of better butter in her bitter batter and it made her bitter batter better
But I guess many people will always think of this version: