Liz Flaherty,  Memories,  Musings,  This Life...

Sunday Snippet: The French Butter Edition

I love French butter. We discovered it in Paris, naturally enough, and it’s perfect butter. Creamy and delicious with just the right touch of salt. We ate it on croissants at the little café around the corner from our apartment and on crusty baguettes from the boulangerie next to the laverie (laundromat). It was sheer paradis sur terre (heaven on Earth).

I’d never really appreciated butter of any kind before that trip to Paris because my mom bought margarine and that’s what I grew up on. My grandmother had butter at her house and I recall thinking it tasted…oily. And because the size of my butt has been an issue my entire adult life, using real butter has never even crossed my mind. I enjoyed it in Paris, though, and wished I could find it in the grocery store here at home. But I didn’t really look that hard because of Husband’s severe lactose intolerance. I try to keep the dairy products to a minimum here in our house.

All that said, Son had French butter at Christmastime and it was, as in Paris, paradis sur terre! He’d gotten it at Kroger, of all places, and when I spread it on my own version of croissants–the rolls I make every year at the holidays–I was immediately taken back to that little café on Rue du Commerce.

I debated buying it at my Kroger, but I didn’t because… well, because not doing little things for my own personal enjoyment has become my go-to choice for too long. Fast forward to May and my writing retreat with Liz. We did a hedonistic grocery trip when we got to Madison, buying a few things so we’d have nibbles in the house for breakfasts and for snacking and such. I grabbed a baguette and some French butter (Kroger really does carry it!) and introduced her to the unequaled joy. She indulged me and agreed it was quite tasty, but she’s always used real butter, so it wasn’t the treat to her that it is to me. I sent it home with her though because I didn’t think I should have it in the house.

Ever since we got back from retreat, I’ve been thinking about French butter and Paris and why I believe I don’t deserve little indulgences. Husband is always glad when I indulge in small pleasures for just me…why do I think I shouldn’t have them? So, in a moment of true self-indulgence, I ordered a special covered butter dish online, and when we went to the grocery store the other day, I bought French butter. I’m going to keep French butter in the house for me. Just for me. Because I’m sixty-seven years old and if I’m ever going to indulge in French butter, it should be now, right?

So, mes amies, what’s your indulgence? Do you do anything at all that is purely for your own pleasure?

Stay well, stay safe, and most of all, stay grateful!


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  • Roseann McGrath Brooks

    It’s a woman thing, I believe. Somewhere along the line, we internalized the idea that everyone else had to get the good stuff before we did and that there just might not be any left for us. When I was a teen, I noticed my mom doing it, and as soon as I became an adult, I started “self-sacrificing” as well. Fortunately, once I crossed over into “mature adult,” I remembered what my teenage self believed: I deserve some good stuff too! My indulgence is chocolate (although I won’t turn away French butter), and I’ve made that known to my loved ones so that on days like my birthday and Mother’s Day, instead of a gift card to Amazon, I get a gift card to our local luxury chocolate maker! (That’s Eclat for anyone near West Chester, PA!)

    • Nan

      You may be right about that, Roseann. Excellent point! We learn it, I’m sure. Chocolate is right up there on my list too! I love the dark chocolate orange creams at Fresh Thyme market. They don’t always have them and they are pricey, but man… they are delish! Thanks for stopping by!

  • Rebecca Warner

    Oh Nan, how I love this article! I’ve long eaten butter, the Land O Lakes kind, but not until we were in Paris in 2016 did we discover the delight of French beurre! Though we had been there several times before, and no doubt had French butter, it wasn’t until we were at Dokhan’s, the oldest champagne bar in Paris, that I first swooned over butter. Hubby doesn’t eat much butter and never has. I’m a butter baby, I love it and always have. So we had a plate of accompanying hors d’oeuvres with our exquisite champagne, and there was a very pretty little pat of butter on the plate. I tasted it first, (swooned, as I said) then told hubby he should try it, even if he didn’t normally eat butter. It hit him with the same intensity as it hit me. I almost rapped his knuckles when he went in for more of my precious pat of butter. No doubt a place that sells a single glass of champagne for $40 Euros (it was our anniversary) gave us the crème de la crème of butter, (pun intended) and we were spoiled for life.

    Returning home, we went on a hunt for that particular French butter. Jason actually called Le Dokhan for specifics. We had to order it from some gourmet website he found, and I think it was $15 by the time it was delivered. So, it was not going to be a regular indulgence. But not too long after, French butter did come to our grocery store, and though it wasn’t quite as good as the real deal (peut etre, it’s just how everything tastes better in Paris, n’est-ce pas?) it became a staple.

    Jill Vogt and I have had quite a few laughs over how my husband began hoarding butter, salted and unsalted. In all fairness, he does 90% of the cooking, and he uses a lot of butter (and never gains an ounce, unlike moi.) But when we got up to 16 sticks of butter, I was concerned. Alas, I got used to it and now just say that Jason “went around the butter bend” when we had so much butter that he had to shelve it in three different sections in the fridge.

    And it all started with that pat of French butter.

    Like you, I will always recall that explosion of delight in tasting such creamy French butter for the first time and realizing it is one of the finest foods on the planet! Love that you’ve decided to integrate it into your “among life’s pleasures” lifestyle!

    • Nan

      What a wonderful story! Paris was an awakening for me on so many levels, but particularly with food–not just how delicious everything was, but also in how they find enjoyment and not guilt in what the French people eat. They don’t overeat, really, but they eat slowly and savoringly (is that even a word?) and I’m finding that I need/want to do that as I grow older. Thanks for coming by and sharing your French buerre story! I love it!