Butter: A Rich History by Elaine Khosrova


Butter: A Rich History by Elaine Khosrova

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

It’s a culinary catalyst, an agent of change, a gastronomic rock star. Ubiquitous in the world’s most fabulous cuisines, butter is boss. Here, it finally gets its due.

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.

My rating: 5 Stars

My Review:

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I read a book about butter, and I liked it.

On second thought, “liked” is too mild a word.

Butter: A Rich History by Elaine Khosrova is a tale brilliantly spun about a food, and ingredient we likely don’t give much thought to unless we’re crying about health risks associated with it. I’m a fan of Michael Pollan’s books – I own several of them. And I daresay Elaine is on par with Michael.

Elaine takes us across the world, and shows us how butter first met the light of day, and how it eventually came to rest in our refrigerators (or on our counter tops). I’ve learned that butter has played a key role in the spiritual rituals of other cultures, that milk maids were cool, and that people had to pay the Church to consume butter, a forbidden food on fasting days. Do you know what a “pleasure dairy” is? I do!

Elaine also covers the war on butter. I admit, the war on butter is one of the reasons I was hoping so badly to get my hands on this book. If I was wary of butter before, I now consider it a dear friend, and am eating it on toast as I write this review.

Favorite points:

  • The author’s voice is that of a proper story teller. If you fear an info dump style book, lay that fear to rest.
  • There are recipes in the back of the book, so you can recreate, and taste the recipes you read about.
  • The book gives the big picture: You learn about yak butter in the mountains, and ancient rituals, and later, the science of butter!

Butter: A Rich History is, hands down, one of my favorite food history books, and I -will- be re-reading this.

Type of Readers Suited for: Foodies and food history lovers.

If you are a food history lover, the book is worth full price. I recommend this book for those who are just getting their feet wet in the realm of food history as well, as it’s an easy, fun read.


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