Sunday, November 7, 2010

"Eat butter first,

and eat it last, and live till a hundred years be past."
Old Dutch proverb

I am sure the health conscious cringe at that proverb, but I remember the highlight of the coming holiday season was the "butter cookie," a recipe my Dutch grandmother and mother made.

But, butter is one of the things on the agenda today, specifically, butter pats. As the indoor eating season begins, the casual entertaining becomes a little more formal. I love these little plates.

In the Victorian era (late 1800s, the table was lavishly decorated. a well appointed table was not complete without individual butter pats. One of the reasons that the Arts and Crafts Society revolted against the Victorians was the frivolities like the butter pat. Formal Victorian tables were always set with great opulence and excess utensils. While the traditional table of the time was set with bread that was unbuttered and placed in the folds of the guest’s napkins other courses required a good buttering. The pats of butter were served on small plates, about 3 inches in diameter, placed left of center of the service plate. You can see the size of the pat in relation to a dinner plate...many people think these small dishes are from children's sets because of their size.

Another dish on this frivolous Victorian table was the bone dish. Designed to hold fish bones, they work nicely for any small bones. The design wraps around the plate, and it is better than having bones piled up on a dinner plate.
Keep in mind these folks had no KFC or piles of chicken wings. Sometimes the little extras are good things as Martha would say (and I bet she uses all these "frivolous" pieces---and, of course, she is not washing everything either I would guess!)

Still, looking at these small dishes, you realize how much our eating habits have changed. I am always fascinated by antiques/vintage for that reason; yes, we are preserving the past, but does it mean anything if we simply collect things and stash them in display cabinets? Even if you do not use these little dishes for butter or bones, they can hold a ring or loose change. Or something like cranberry sauce could nestle in the bone dish...does not have to be a bone, you know! So, recycle, reuse, repurpose.

1 comment:

Just a bed of roses said...

I was just doing some displaying with 4 of the same little floral butter pat dishes and I too thought they were some sort of childs plates...ahhh it makes sense. And they are so pretty.

Oh the work of those fancy tables.
I hear people always wishing they could have lived in those ages, but I think I am spoiled with an easier lifestyle.
Love your blog, always!