uglY cOUsin has published some negative reviews of popular culture and will continue to do so since none of us has much self-control and most of us have a hair-trigger gag reflex (seriously, there is a molar on the top right of my mouth I can’t brush without vomiting a little). The uglY cOUsin mini-festo is a positive statement, though, and we stand for things–not just against them. We champion the unnoticed, the unusual, the underappreciated. So, I made a list of people, places, and things that recently have engaged my brain, provoked me to be forward-thinking, given me hope for the future. Last on the list was the habit of starting sentences with “so,” which has become so popular on reality TV that it has finally entered into my habits like one of those earworm songs disturbs my sleep. First on the list is the butter keeper.
I did not know such a thing existed until recently. It is a keeper. For your butter. Crazy, right? We were at a friend’s house, hanging out in their kitchen which is our custom. The drinks and food are there, and everything is counter height. If you want people to hang out in your living room, bring in counters, a refrigerator, and a sink. Maybe a urinal (all-gender-inclusive). That would be the ultimate gathering spot. These friends, let’s call them Mock and Shanfan, are connoisseurs of artful living–but I would describe them in pure American (or maybe Bohemian) terminology rather than use a French word if such a word existed. “Connoisseur” seems pretentious, and they are not. They have an eye and tongue for quality with no regard at all for what others might think is quality.
Every trip to their house leads to a new discovery, whether it be a new twist on a classic cocktail, a chair designer’s theory of sitting, or a labor-intensive coffee making practices that are worth it. They pick up unusual items at auctions and re-discover their use. The guest bed we sleep on, for instance, is always topped with Kendo sticks they purchased at a barn sale to keep us safe at night in the case of an intruder. On this particular occasion, Shanfan was buttering something delicious and we noted that she accessed the butter from a little crock on the countertop. It was our first brush with a butter keeper. We were in awe, like seeing fire for the first time or being introduced to alien technology. She explained that these things were originally French (so maybe the earlier word was apt), had been around for a couple hundred years, and then showed us how it worked. The bottom part is just a crock. You put water in it. The top part holds the butter. The water creates a seal, so the butter stays fresh. Just change it out once a week, and you can keep your butter out for a month.
So simple. So great. So super low-tech. Both my wife and I have memories of our mothers keeping butter and all sorts of things out on the counters, but those habits seemed to be practiced for the benefit of flies, not people. These keeper is for people. People who don’t like cold, hard butter and don’t have the foresight to let it sit out for an hour before needing toast. When a body desires toast, there is no time for hesitation. We’ve ripped bread, nuked butter into multi-textured goo, and, in short, lived a life of butter misery born of ignorance. Not now. We got our own.
Imagine, if you will, waking up on a Sunday morning, filled with questions, an achy stomach, and a slow burn of multi-directional regret without a known cause. You want to re-enter your dreams and sleep the day away, but there are things you must do. What will give you the strength to carry on? Not turning on the TV or scrolling social media. Those things will further depress you and cause you to hide under blankets until the following weekend. Watching cat videos might energize you for a moment, but not in a way that could make you “productive.” The only answer to your problems is toast and butter. Fresh, spreadable butter, that you scoop from your crock. Not only is it delicious, but when you pull the lid open, turn it upside down, and put your knife to it, you feel somehow sophisticated and simple at the same time.