Title: Butter: A Rich History
Author: Elaine Khosrova
Publication: November 15, 2016
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Genre: Cookbooks, Food and Wine
SYNOPSIS: (From Goodreads)
After traveling across three continents to stalk the modern story of butter, award-winning food writer and former pastry chef Elaine Khosrova serves up a story as rich, textured, and culturally relevant as butter itself.
From its humble agrarian origins to its present-day artisanal glory, butter has a fascinating story to tell, and Khosrova is the perfect person to tell it. With tales about the ancient butter bogs of Ireland, the pleasure dairies of France, and the sacred butter sculptures of Tibet, Khosrova details butter’s role in history, politics, economics, nutrition, and even spirituality and art. Readers will also find the essential collection of core butter recipes, including beurre manié, croissants, pâte brisée, and the only buttercream frosting anyone will ever need, as well as practical how-tos for making various types of butter at home–or shopping for the best.
**A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.**
Butter. Everyone loves butter. Butter makes your crab taste better. Helps makes cakes rise. It raises toast from hot bread to crunchy goodness. I saw this book and knew I had to read it. I have on occasion even made my own butter. Whipping it past all the stages until the buttermilk and milk particles separated and it made a satisfying whomping sound on the sides of the metal bowl. But I wanted to know more. After reading this book, now I do.
The book begins as the author is following some yak farmers in Bhutan out to milk their yaks. Did you know that yak’s butter can make the farmer three times as much money as cow butter? I am going to start raising yaks. The author travels all over the world discovering everything thing she can about butter. The author helps the woman who carves the butter cow at the state fair. Turns out they reuse the butter every year but mix in a slight amount of new. She loves the butter cow so much she has to pay her children to demolish it every year because she can’t handle the thought of doing it herself.
While on her journey, the author learns that in the Middle Ages people regarded butter with great suspicion to the point where they believed that ingesting butter might make a person more susceptible to catching Leprosy. They also regarded the action of making butter as a symbol of fertility. She finds every culture has its own thoughts on butter. Some very philosophical. Buddhist monks compare the teachings of Buddist soul transformation to how ghee is derived from milk. I don’t think I would have ever have made that connection. The author visits many places that make butter. From commercial butter making factories to small mom and pop’s. The icing on the cake is the bonus recipe book all made with, you guessed it, butter!
I enjoyed this book. It made me want to get up and bake all sorts of things. You can tell as you are reading it that the author truly has a passion for butter. She made the information interesting without being overly dry or scientific. The only real problem I had was that I am reading what I can only assume is a unproofed copy. There was frequently absent sentences that made reading it somewhat difficult. The book, however, was well written and informative. I will never think of butter the same way and will hold it in much higher esteem.
Butter: A Rich History is available for pre-order on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Make sure you reserve your copy now to get it on release day. Also make sure to add it to your To Reads list on Goodreads and leave feedback for the author when you are done.