October 2007


All Buttered Up

I should have known something was up when I saw the herd of cows grazing at the Weimar Office.

This morning I’d popped down to the Weimar Office (nee Café Laden) to work and to partake of its new “Frühstrück im CaféLaden, Version 1” and to take advantage of the new early opening hours—now opening early at 7:30 for those in need of a caffeine fix at a reasonable hour of the morning.

After another weird travel related dream that woke me up in a funk, I didn’t get to the shop until 9:30, where I spent my first ten minutes glaring at the music students occupying the table above the electric socket—it didn’t work and I ended up ordering the Italienische Variationen which consisted of copious amounts of Italian ham, Italian salami, two rolls, and some fresh cheese while sitting at the bar—the only other spot in the restaurant with a convenient socket.

Despite being an “Italian” breakfast, it was firmly German in that the waitress scurried out back to milk four cows, churn the fresh milk, and then put the resulting kilos of butter out for my use with the ham, salami, rolls, and fresh cheese.

Every time I’ve ordered breakfast in Germany, I’ve had this experience and I’ve come to the resulting conclusion that Germans sure do love their butter.

Meanwhile I’m left wondering where to put all the butter, an ethic that results from my childhood when my family had a “clean plate club”—one had to eat everything put before them, or else.

However, unlike Germans, I do not fancy putting butter between my bread and meat; I prefer to eat it without any additional lubrication, letting the flavor of the salami or ham flourish. Today’s exercise found me using less than a tea-spoon of butter on the very last, tiny piece of bread. A couple years ago I had a German breakfast for two at Jena’s Stilbruch that yielded enough butter for an American breakfast of 10.

I really need to hang out in restaurants during breakfast time and observe the Germans eating breakfast: perhaps the butter actually is only for show, but if it is, that runs counter to the German waste reduction ethic. I suspect the butter really is used between the meat and bread—prepared sandwiches at bakeries oft have a disgustingly thick layer of butter that one is forced to scrape off before eating.

11 comments to All Buttered Up

  • …prepared sandwiches at bakeries oft have a disgustingly thick layer of butter that one Americans is are forced to scrape off before eating.

    There, fixed that for ya. 🙂

  • Those bolded sections above had strikeouts through them when I previewed the comment. Odd.

  • I feel you. Butter on a meat sandwich grosses me out, but my husband (American who did student exchange in Germany) swears by it. Although I have come around to the cold-cuts-at-breakfast, butter is a step too far.

  • Jul

    Yeah, I can’t buy a pre-made sandwich in this part of the world that doesn’t contain butter as its main ingredient. The Swiss insist on adding a thick layer of butter even when adding a slice of cheese to a pretzel. So wrong…

    Oh, but apparently they’re not eating enough butter, because the Butter Council has taken out a series of pro-butter bilboards all over the city. I am not making this up.

  • Reko

    I see that you are interested both in SALAMI and in LUBRICATION in this post.

  • butter; i am loving it!

  • @cq: That might be true (and sorry about the strikeout turning bold… it must be a software issue regarding comments!)

    @Sarah: I can do the cold cuts thing now as well — although I do tend to prefer sweets… the butter is just too much though

    @Jul: The description of a pretzel with cheese AND butter made me feel a little ill. The idea of a pro-butter campaign made me wonder–what’s left? Chocolate?

    @Reko: You would put two things together in a way I had not envisioned while writing this. Why am I not surprised?

    @Chicago: Now you know one more thing about Germany that I’m at a loss to understand… as long as I don’t have to put it on my bread, it’s ok with me…

  • something else:
    i’ve always wondered why americans fear fat so much, or why they prefer artificial low fat products, rather than ‘natural’ fat products?
    fat is better for your body than sugar.
    i know, germans would fight their home for a slice of fresh baked dark bread with depply yellow butter on it, but seriously there is not anything more tasty than that.
    (i know, you guys won’t agree)

  • Whoa, chica! I would like to state, categorically (for myself, at least) that I love me some butter. Butter on bread=yummy. Meat on bread=yummy. Butter on meat=yak. It’s just a combination that I can’t get behind.

  • A Canadian friend of ours told of going to a pension with just her parents and getting an enormous bowl of butter at breakfast for just the three of them. There was no way they could use it all. The next morning, the lady serving breakfast brought out only a tiny amount of butter, saying in a rather “tsk tsk” tone, “I noticed you didn’t eat all your butter yesterday.” I guess they were expected to use the whole bowl?

    On the other hand, Swedes seem to be pretty sure that butter would kill them.

  • @chica: Personally I prefer real fat and real sugar, so I am in no position to understand the average American; As for the bread and butter–I adore bread and butter. What I do not understand is the quantity of butter on top of the bread. There’s at least half a centimeter thick layer of butter on sandwiches I buy at the bakery. It’s too much for me; and putting the butter with meat– well, see Sarah

    @sarah: I’m with you– bread and butter is great; meat and bread is great; meat and butter (with or without bread) is not to my taste.