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We Have Always Been At War With Buttermilk!

[ 52 ] September 12, 2012 |

To make a point blatantly stolen from inspired by friend of LGM CS,  I am amused by this headline in the NYT food section, which reflects a longstanding pattern (although in the prior cases, more plausible.)

My question: who exactly maligns buttermilk? I can imagine the scene in restaurants across America. “Our specials today are a three cheese omelet, panko-crusted, chipoltle-dusted, mojito-infused corn dog batter with melted asiago and a Southern Southwestern BBQ glaze, and buttermilk pancakes.” “Buttermilk? Jesus, why not just make them with rat poison?” I know every time I walk to Stewart’s to get buttermilk so I can make pancakes, the look on the cashier’s face makes me wish I had done something less embarrassing, like ask for “A Barely Legal. No, not that one, the new one.” I hope this article will be the first step in the long road against anti-buttermilk discrimination.

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  1. vacuumslayer says:

    What? When has buttermilk been maligned? Buttermilk rocks. Love to make creamy homemade dressings with it. Mix it into mashed potatoes.

    This is silly talk.

  2. Aaron B. says:

    The New York Times: making up things to be pretentious about since 1851.

  3. Njorl says:

    I malign buttermilk. It tastes bad and leaves a disturbing coating on glasses.

    • djw says:

      Yes, if you drink it, which is nasty (but only slightly more than drinking whole milk). If you put it in things like mashed potatoes, pancakes, and soups, on the other hand, it’s fantastic.

      • JRoth says:

        See, this is precisely the malgning in question. Or at least this is what I thought of. For some reason buttermilk drinking has survived as a folkway here in Pittsbugrh (maybe throughout Appalachia?), and every non-native I’ve ever known to mention it has been repulsed. And these are people who like to drink kaffir and eat plain yogurt.

    • KadeKo says:

      Are you familiar with Shelley Berman’s musings on buttermilk? I mean, this was in the very late 50s or early 60s, but he said the same thing about how the glass looked.

  4. nitpicker says:

    I admit, it was I who maligned buttermilk. In my defense, however, I did so out of love. Buttermilk and I were once the best of friends, until Marjorie came between us. You know the story: Boy meets girl. Dairy product meets girl. Those those first days were glorious, our fragile triangle of longing soon collapsed when I noticed Marjorie and Buttermilk leaving me more frequently alone and returning to me only when apparently exhausted–lipstick stains lining Buttermilk’s container, Marjorie exhibiting a heretofore unseen milk moustache.

    I admit my response was dishonorable, but, intending to harm my opponent for Marjorie’s hand, I pointed out at parties or other places of conversation–casually, at first, though my tone grew, I fear, obviously harsh–that Buttermilk was rather fatty and what some people thought of as taste I saw as an underlying bitterness.

    Alas, while my rumors have remained, I lost the battle for Marjorie. She and Buttermilk abandoned me for the last time over ten years ago now. I think of her often and, whenever I encounter a stinky cheese or even whipping cream, I feel deep, poignant pangs of loss and regret…

  5. RobNYNY1957 says:

    American buttermilk is really just watery yogurt. It’s not a by-product of cream left over from making butter. Look at the ingredients — it’s made from cultured milk, not cream.

  6. Anonymous says:

    My mother died of a buttermilk overdose.

  7. Lara says:

    I malign buttermilk because I can never use it up before it goes bad. It should come in smaller sizes, like cream and half-and-half.

    • JRoth says:

      Really? It lasts a month or two in the fridge, and I certainly can use that much (3/4 cup per batch of pancakes, and I always make a double batch).

      Although, as I mentioned above, due to local tradition it’s sold in the same pint bottles as chocolate milk and 2%. When I only started to cook with it, that’s what I bought.

    • S_noe says:

      The powdered stuff is good for cooking, and freezes well!

  8. BruceJ says:

    That didn’t get me so much as the gawdawful hipsterishness “Oh this isn’t COMMERCIAL buttermilk that YOU can buy, this is REAL buttermilk. You probably never heard of them.”

  9. JREinATL says:

    A more charitable interpretation: Buttermilk, as a product, has been physically maligned by commercial bottlers, whose product is really skim milk with some bacteria added.

  10. Grant says:

    “Hard-tack Candy Rises Like a Phoenix”
    NY Times June 23, 2013

  11. Light Rail Tycoon says:

    I live in Maine, and the store I work for carries Kate’s butter and buttermilk, and it really is great. I never understood drinking buttermilk, when all I’d had was the manufactured stuff, but real buttermilk is great to drink, and to cook with.

  12. KLG says:

    My grandmother (b. 1910) used buttermilk in pancakes and drank it. Pored it over cornbread and ate it. Me, not so much, but the powdered stuff is OK for making bread.

    Then there is this:
    “Lorie darlin’, life in San Francisco, you see, is still just life. If you want any one thing too badly, it’s likely to turn out to be a disappointment. The only healthy way to live life is to learn to like all the little everyday things, like a sip of good whiskey in the evening, a soft bed, a glass of buttermilk, or a feisty gentleman like myself.”
    –Augustus McCrae

  13. So does this mean that the high falutin’ organic “buttermilk” I’ve been buying all this time was not actually buttermilk? Very irritating. I hope when this real stuff starts to hit stores the labels push that it’s real buttermilk.

  14. Gus says:

    My problem with buttermilk is I rarely need more than a cup of it at any given time, and I can rarely find it in containers smaller than a quart.

  15. Ruviana says:

    I too suffer from a surfeit of buttermilk but I love to cook with it and to drink it. I’m 60 and when I mention drinking it my students look at me in horror and astonishment. I’m thinking it may be generational as well as regional. Would love to find the real buttermilk. I’ll drink the cultured but miss churned.

  16. M. Bouffant says:

    I ain’t never drunk none, but I don’t need to jump off a cliff to know what’s bad for me.

    I do prefer buttermilk donuts, though.

  17. Belle Waring says:

    Dammit, now I gotta stand up for gruel. Well, in my family, gruel was just watery oatmeal with dried fruits in it like apricots or maybe some apples if we had those. When we were broke sometimes in South Carolina. It was ok! Nothing wrong with gruel so concocted. In the Chinese boarding school my daughter goes to sometimes (only for like 2 weeks of the year) they really have gruel, barley water, sort of. We are unsure whether it is meant to be soup or a drink (no water or tea is provided). It is unsatisfactory either way. It comes in a GIANT pot with a big ladle. It is sadtime food. Again, regular barley water is good; this stuff has simultaneously too much barley and not enough flavor. It goes without saying that buttermilk is delicious, the NYT is tripping, and you just need to eat more pancakes in order to use up that pesky extra buttermilk. Or drink it!

  18. Halloween Jack says:

    I didn’t like the taste of buttermilk when I was young and something of a supertaster (also didn’t like sauerkraut, and couldn’t tolerate the taste of hops until my mid-late twenties), but I like it just fine now, although I don’t have it often (usually when I’ve got some left over from a recipe). My main complaint is that Colleen Cruze, while cute as a button, is not “outfitted for work”, she’s outfitted for the farmer’s market. Real farmers prefer overalls, which are among the most practical garments ever made.

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