Only ButterWednesday, March 21, 2007
A combination of circumstances have made me think of butter. It is spring and I remember that when we were living in Mexico there was a heavily advertised margarine called Margarina Primavera. or Spring Margarine. There was no way I would have ever tried it as butter has always been the choice in our family. I cannot think of ever using margarine when I went to Aunt Iris's for tea in Buenos Aires. Aunt Iris Hayward made the best deviled ham in the world and to combine it with margarine on her home-made toast would have been a sacrilege.
Because I have a terrible cold I cannot taste anything so it seems that it is up to my imagination to satisfy my tastes. Just a few weeks ago Rebecca reminisced about medias lunas de grasa. These are Argentine croissonts made from lard and lard in Argentina is grasa. These croissonts are chewy and the extra brown ones dunked into café con leche at the Café Richmond on Florida Street is close to being in heaven. Even Jorge Luis Borges knew that as he frequented the café, too.
On the other hand factura (pastry) de manteca (Argentine for butter) is about as light as pastry can ever be. The idea of slathering dulce de leche on a media luna de manteca (a butter croissont) previously buttered with the usual unsalted Argentine spread makes me almost feel like taking the first plane to BA with Rosemary and Rebecca.
In Mexico butter is not manteca but mantequilla as in Spain. Grasa or lard in Argentina is manteca in Mexico.
I can never forget my grandmaother having breakfast or merienda (a Filipino/Spanish version of teatime). Abuelita would butter her bolillos (Mexican French bread buns) with butter (she would have rejected margarine of any kind) then she would put tons of strawberry jam (Mexican strawberry jam has no equal) and then peanut butter. She would dunk it all into her extra sweet café con leche with a smile on her face like a kid about to eat chocolate cake.
Rosemary puts margarine on her toast (health reasons?) but she would never stop buying my Lactancia cultured and unsalted butter. I use it for everything including for all my cooking.
I think that anybody who has ever dunked buttered toast in strong tea must know that the butter that melts into the tea enhances the taste of the tea. Every once in a while when I don't want to make toast with my tea I will slip in a little chunk of butter into my steeping tea.
Rosemary and I do share a little quirky pleasure that would not work with margarine. Every once in a while she will buy a bag of pretzels and both us will scrape a butter stick with pleasure that must be as close to the one of my grandmother dunking her buttered bread into her coffee.