A (Butter) Rose By Any Other Name

[The Amateur Gourmet is on vacation and, while he’s gone, he’s asked his friends to cover for him. His old friend Mark Blankenship, who writes for The New York Times and Variety and has his own blog called The Critical Condition, talks to us today about a butter rose.]

Before I begin, let me thank Adam for the invitation to transform from a pop culture critic into a foodie. The world looks different over here. And more delicious!

When Adam threw open the doors of The Amateur Gourmet, I started paying a lot more attention to what’s happening on my plate. Or more specifically, I went to a wedding last week and got really interested in the food.

As usual, I was impressed by the fancy touches, like this rose made out of butter. Butter! I know, right?

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But this time, I did more than just admire the butter. I started to think about why it impressed me in the first place.

The most obvious reason may be that human beings are always impressed by our ability to recast natural objects into the images of our choosing. We’ll call a butter rose “beautiful” because it looks like a real rose, but as much as we’re complimenting the beauty of actual nature, we’re also admiring humanity’s intelligence and skill. Turning one thing into something else just proves how amazing we are.

But wait! There’s another level here. Because it’s one thing to turn, say, a stone into a statue. But if you think about it, that’s only one level of transformation. From a certain perspective, the butter rose is even more impressive because it requires two levels of craftsmanship. First, someone has to turn cream or milk into butter. That’s already an act of human mastery. Then another person has to take the butter and reshape it once again.

The double craftsmanship is at least partially what makes the butter flower so dazzling.

And that impressiveness radiates out to the rest of an event. If the planners turn a butter pat into a work of art, then their main attraction must be really incredible.

That’s not a bad impression to give at a wedding. If the butter can be turned into a flower, just imagine what the union of these two people can become.

And don’t even get me started on the chocolate fountain…

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