The holiday episode of America’s Test Kitchen radio had a great interview with Adam Gopnick of the New Yorker. He remarked that he was at some of the best restaurants in the world (oh to be a food writer!!), thoroughly enjoying his food, and yet he was amazed that his favorite part of the meal was the bread and butter. He highlighted that the key to bread and butter is that it is a slightly sour starch combined with a slightly sweet fat (assuming of course that you are at a great restaurant – otherwise you might be getting crappy bread and crappy butter).
Then he went over some history. Although the origin story may be allegorical, it is rumored that the bread and butter combination was discovered by Copernicus. Yes, the same one who discovered that the earth revolves around the sun. Which discovery affects our lives more? I think it is a pretty close call.
He also related that the bread and butter combination is a replacement for the French custom of using sorbet between courses to cleanse the palette. In America, we don’t do no stinkin’ sorbet. We use good ole American bread and butter.
This is why I love programs like ATK radio. In addition to getting some great food-related holiday gift ideas, the best sugar cookie recipe, and some fan fiction about Oliver Twist, I got this wonderful food history too. And that was all in just one episode.
I have a similar experience with the Dinner Party Download, This American Life, and many other public radio shows. And best of all – it is totally free. No subscription fee. Not even an Internet connection required.