Tastes Like Home – Bread and Butter

Hi Everyone,  I was 17, it was my first job and someone in the office innocently asked what each of us had for breakfast that morning. Charlene said she had roti and pumpkin, Aubrey said he had coffee with eggs and toast, Delores said she had tennis roll and cheese. Sean sat upright in his chair and said boldly with dignity and pride, “I had buttered bread.”

Perfectly puffed and  buttered butterflaps.  (Photo by Cynthia Nelson)
Perfectly puffed and buttered butterflaps. (Photo by Cynthia Nelson)

Everyone grew quiet; there was awkwardness in the room. Suddenly we all got busy, mumbled about having a busy day and buried our heads into the files on our desk. Clearly we all thought the same thing – poor Sean, all he had for breakfast was bread and butter. No eggs, no bacon, no sausages, no sardines, no cheese, no jam, just plain ole bread and butter.

So what’s wrong with that you say? Nothing, nothing at all, absolutely nothing but let me explain the reaction. And those of you reading this that understand what I’m saying, do not turn away from this truth, face it with me. There are many of us when growing up thought that to just have bread and butter meant that you have very little, that you could not afford “other things” to eat with your bread so you had to settle for a spread of butter.  My, how stupid and ignorant we were….

Given the ignorant belief that to have bread with just butter meant you were, to put it delicately, economically challenged. I must admit, I found this a little perplexing because older folk would refer to those who were well off or full of favour as having their bread buttered, or even having their bread well buttered. Huh? Why the cry-down then if some only had bread and butter? You see how adults can mess with your mind? Perhaps it was another case of some people’s snobbery being passed down through the ages. Gosh, to have bread and butter is the reason many people wake up in the morning! Alright, alright, there are other reasons.

When Sean said he had buttered bread, I thought, what a sophisticated way to say that you had bread and butter and I vowed that if I ever had just plain ole bread and butter to eat that I’d say I had buttered bread. Hmmm, given that I not big on breakfast and bread is something I only eat occasionally, I’ve never really gotten the chance to say, “I had buttered bread.”

There have always been two ways that I like to have bread and butter. And before I go on, let me make it clear, I am a bread snob and I am a butter snob and I make absolutely no apology for saying so. Given that I don’t eat the combo often, whenever I do, it has got to be the best quality. So, the first way I like bread and butter is in the form of toast. There is something alluring about melted butter on bread – the light brown landscape moist with rich creamy melting butter; you can smell the richness of the butter as you bite into it, you taste the sweet saltiness of the butter and feel the crunch of the toast, oooo la la. I like my toast two ways – one way is to butter it and then toast it on the tawah (flat iron griddle) and the other way is to toast it in a toaster and then butter it. It really depends on my mood.

Excellent butter is a must. (Photo by Cynthia Nelson)
Excellent butter is a must. (Photo by Cynthia Nelson)

The other way I like to eat bread and butter is when the bread is fresh out of the oven and still very warm. I like to spread the butter then and watch in melt into that soft-pillowy white bed, drinking it in – a blanket of delicate gold. Can you see it? Can you smell that fresh yeasty bread? Can you taste it?
Though those are two ways I like to have bread and butter – toasted and freshly baked, I reacquainted myself with something that many bread lovers are completely in love with – butterflaps! When I made butterflaps and shared them with a friend of mine from Guyana who lives here in Barbados, I was chuffed to see and hear his response, not to the awesomeness of the butterflaps, but to the silence that fell, the look in his eyes and the disarming smiling on his face and in his voice. “I can’t remember the day I even hear the word butterflap!” (Sic).

If you want to talk about buttered bread, darling, a quality butterflap will get you there every time! Rich high-quality salted butter smothered onto a piece of dough folded, baked and then lovingly caressed with melted butter is going to have you and your loved ones coming back for more.

Casting my mind back to Sean’s declaration of having buttered bread, I feel ashamed at being uninformed then. I’ve thought about that moment many times and wished I knew then what I know now. Sean was our friend and we made him feel uncomfortable and the worse of it was that Sean’s declaration of eating bread and butter had nothing to do with economics; it had to do with his taste and what he likes to have for breakfast. I could say that I was young and naive but that is not an excuse. Forgive me Sean, and wherever you are, I hope that you are still enjoying your bread and butter or rather, your buttered bread which I am confident is well-buttered!


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