I blame my visceral opposition to the slightly yellowed sticks of emulsified fat on my mother who refuses to touch the stuff outside of cooking and baking (incidentally, she blames her older brother who is the reason she stopped liking it as a child). Of course, to be completely honest, my fear can also be traced back to my feminine desire to continue fitting into my current dress size.
While butter does wonders for a slice of warm bread, it does not do any favors to one’s waistline, and as such, I’ve always approached it with a trembling hand. I cringe when a cookie recipe calls for two sticks, shudder when I see a slab oozing over a steak, and feel the urge to run for the car when confronted with the stench of popcorn at a movie theatre lest it permeate into my fat cells through osmosis. Though, to be fair, I could also be reacting to the high concentration of children in an enclosed space (see germ fears).
Even so, certain occasions demand a pat or two (or five) of butter, and in some situations, I will closet my fears for a brief and dramatic foray with the product.
Birthdays are one such occasion.
A couple weekends ago, Sarah from the Delicious Life/ TasteSpotting, Lauren from Harb Knock Life, and I took Sook from Yutjangsah out for a birthday brunch at Tavern. While I made the tragic mistake of ordering “just a salad” the first time I went to the beautiful Brentwood restaurant for a midday meal, I decided that I could justify being a bit more indulgent for such an important celebration.
Not only did I do something I never ever do – drink alcohol (specifically Prosecco) – before 1 pm, I also ran amuck with my least favorite form of fat. I molested my slice of tender house-baked sourdough bread with the softened butter and accompanying rock salt. I insisted we order the butter-massaged cinnamon monkey bread ($3) for the table (and proceeded to eat three pieces). And, in a move that was so un-me that I think I may have been having an out-of-body experience at the time, I requested the most over-the-top, butter-saturated dish on the menu – the Tavern “benedict” with prosciutto and lemon ($16.).
While my dining companions daintily nibbled on smoked fish with toasted rye ($16), a wild mushroom frittata ($16) with the yellowest eggs we’d ever seen, and a simply dressed spinach salad with fennel, citrus and avocado, I corrupted my vessel with more butter than I ever remember ingesting in a single sitting before. (Aside from the time I inhaled ten of my neighbor’s fresh-from-the-oven snicker doodles...)
My heart glugged with each bite of the prosciutto, cheese-laden brioche bread that was also lavishly accosted with poached eggs and a stream of a bastardized lemon-infused hollandaise. The lemon and endive provided some relief, but ultimately, all I could taste was butter on top of more butter. It coated my mouth, left a grease trail on my lips and oozed out from my pores like a vicious odor. The dish was good in the way that bacon wrapped bacon would be good, but ultimately, too much for a butter-phob like me to handle.
The creamsicle coupe ($10) that Sook ordered for dessert pulled me out from the yellow sea I was drowning in, and I clung to the refreshing citrus segments and orange and vanilla ice cream scoops like they were life preservers. It was the healthiest thing I ate the entire meal.
When I finally laid my grease-stained knife to rest, I felt dirty all over – as though cockroaches had been crawling over my face, and little germy children had been wiping their grubby fingers on my dress. I happily returned to more familiar territory – green vegetables – at dinner time. Try as I might, even on birthday occasions, I will never be Paula Deen.
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