There are so many choices for every item in the grocery “superstore” nowadays that you never know what you will come home with. The other day, after getting lost in the supermarket and eventually waking up strewn out on the sidewalk in front of my house/apartment/tent/cave/dwelling, I found a package labelled “Cultured Butter” in my shopping bag. Curious, I looked this up on the internet, and found out that you are now supposed to buy cultured butter. Who’da thunk?
But then again, just because it says “Cultured Butter” on the package doesn’t mean it’s really cultured. I mean, I can wear a T-shirt that says “Cultured,” but last I checked T-shirts don’t make you cultured. Plus, I once found a sticker on the bottom of my left big toe that said “Contains active live cultures,” and while I don’t doubt the technical accuracy of that statement as regards both my left big toe 1 and my entire left foot, I don’t really consider my toe to be quite as cultured as the rest of myself.
So, for those of you, dear Readers, who want to know if your butter is truly cultured, we’ve compiled a list of steps you can take to determine it yourself. We’ve arranged the steps in backwards order just to be confusing, and because, as the Communists used to say, “If it ain’t confusing, it’s isn’t true.”
Twelve Step Program to Cultured Butter
Warning: Parental supervision required. Don’t try this at home.
12. Last, but not least, try sending your butter to a foreign country and see how it interacts with the locals. If it speaks their language, makes friends, and manages to find the WC without embarrassment, it is cultured. If it only speaks English, carries a mobile phone, and constantly takes so-called ‘selfies,’ then it is uncultured.
11. Place the butter on a stack of old books by authors like Chaucer, Shakespeare, and P.G. Wodehouse. Come back in a week and see if it has made it to the bottom of the stack. If so, it’s cultured.
10. See what sort of parties your butter attends, and how it dresses. Parties with museum curators and the like, evening gowns, and fine wine? Cultured. BYOB at a so-called ‘frat house’? Uncultured.
9. Invite your butter to choose a game or sport to play. Cricket, croquet, chess, Chinese checkers, Pachisi? Cultured. Video games and American football? Uncultured.
10. Oops, I mean 8. (Confused myself there.) 8. Try your butter with wine and cheese. If it enjoys Champagne, Brie, Bleu d’Auvergne, Bleu des Causses, Bleu du Vercors-Sassenage, Bleu en le Face, etc., it’s cultured. If it likes Happy Camper wines with Cheddar, Velveeta, and so-called ‘American cheese product’, it’s uncultured.
7. Ask for its favourite number. If your butter likes low positive non-prime numbers, it’s uncultured. However, if it likes very high numbers (in the millions or even billions), it’s cultured. Even better if it likes negative numbers, imaginary numbers, or even irrational numbers.2
6. Ask your butter to set the table for dinner. If it puts the napkin, knife, spoon, fork, salad fork, dessert fork, and dessert spoon in the proper configuration, you’re on the right track. But the real test is how it folds the napkin. Origami swan in flight? Cultured. Rectangle? Uncultured.
5. Hand your butter a violin. If it plays Bach’s Violin Concerto in A Minor, it’s cultured. If it plays Bach’s Violin Concerto in E, it’s definitely uncultured.
4. Have your butter make breakfast one day. Eggs Benedict with crepes and home-made preserves? Cultured. Egg McMuffin? Uncultured.
3. Let your butter choose a film for movie night. Silent Charlie Chaplin classics on 8mm film? Cultured. Disney straight-to-video movies? Uncultured.3
2. Bring your butter some yarn and knitting needles. If it makes itself a fancy little butter-blanket, it’s cultured. If it chases and pounces on the ball of yarn, it’s uncultured.
1. Does it read the Flying News? Cultured. This, of course, is the sign of truly cultured butter. Quiz it on the contents of past articles to be sure.
“Still-Life with Glass, Cheese, Butter and Cake,” by Floris van Schooten (c. 1580/1588–1656). Public domain.
- I like to call him “Germy.” ↩
- Beware, though, that irrational numbers may suggest your butter is having an existential crisis, which is usually hopeless. ↩
- Note that regular television watching, especially so-called ‘reality shows’, which are no more realistic than real tv shows, is also a sign of uncultured butter. ↩