Well gee fellas, I don't know if we should be wasting all this aluminum foil...
Today, we're going to have a post about...what do mean the Simpsons did it? No they didn't!The Simpsons did not have an episode based on the subject of todays post!
You don't even know what this post is about!
Sometimes I wonder why evil super villains even have sidekicks. Sheesh....
And not only super villains. Why does anyone have a sidekick? If Hollywood is to be believed, sidekicks fall into one of two categories; completely worthless or vital for the saving of the world.
If the sidekick is useless, why does the hero keep them around? We all know this type. They cause nothing but problems for the hero. They make an easy job into something perilous and life threatening. Inevitably, the sidekick screws something up and the hero has to fix it all. Yet, the hero never gets rid of the sidekick. They keep them on and act like nothing has happened.
The other type, well, they must be masochists. Because the sidekick that is competent is always stuck with the hero that can't even tie his cape on without causing a catastrophe that affects the entire planet. Then the sidekick has to fix whet the hero screwed up, but also has to let the hero take credit for the fix! Plus, the hero usually blames the sidekick for causing the problem. Why does the sidekick stay? Why don't they just say 'Screw you. You messed it up, you fix it.'
Now, having said that, there is the rare sidekick who will not fit into either category. And they are usually younger teens, or pre-teens even, learning the trade from their older mentors. Robin would be an acceptable example of this type of sidekick. They don't have their own category because they are already in a category; Victim. Look....I don't want to come right out and say it, but there's a name for older people who take young, orphaned children, who have no living relatives, or any way to be traced, under their wings. They usually are the first to get killed when they finally get caught and sent to prison....
Anyhoo, raise your hand if you like Butters. Have you ever wondered why he has the nickname Butters? Well, his real name is Leopold Stotch. And if your name was Leopold, you'd find a nickname quick. His nickname however, is a play on his last name. Butters Stotch. Butterscotch. Get it? (no....I didn't just make that up....it's really why they call him Butters...)
And that, coincidentally, is the subject of todays post. Not butterscotch. And, not Butters. Just butter.
Who here has made butter? Anyone? I have. Not using a churn, though. I was never stupid enough to fall for the old, 'Don't you think it would be fun to try out the butter churn to make real old-timey butter?'. Working a churn is hard work. And even as a small child I've been wise enough to know hard work should be avoided at all costs.
No, the butter I made was in small batches in my grandmothers kitchen. It involved a 5 gallon pail, an electric drill and a long metal butter beater. It still took forever, and was still a pain in the ass. And frankly, grandmas butter never tasted as good as the store bought stuff. (but good god, don't let my grandma see that....)
Butter was first made by the ancient Scythians thousands of years ago. How many thousands? No one is really sure. Butter is one of those things that wasn't there, and then was. We do know that the first butter wasn't made from cow, though. Cows didn't become domesticated until well after butter appeared on the scene. It was most likely goats milk that the first butter was made from.
And they didn't use a churn. What they did was, the filled a goats bladder up about half way with milk. Then they would blow it up with air, like a balloon to fill it the rest of the way, then seal it. They would build a tripod with sticks and hang the bladder from the apex. Then they had a slave start the bladder swinging. And they kept it swinging until they had butter. And that took a long time. And they couldn't stop once they started. To keep the slaves focused on making the butter, it's rumored the Scythians would blind the butter slaves.
By now you must be asking yourself what's so odd about butter?
Regular butter? Nothing. But this isn't a post about regular butter. This is a post about a special butter. Butter that you can actually eat if you want, but I wouldn't.
I'm talking about bog butter.
What is bog butter, you may ask. Well, bog butter is exactly what it sounds like. It's butter, from a bog. People didn't always have refrigeration. So food preservation was a tricky problem. And butter really doesn't last long without being chilled. And if you've ever had rancid butter, you know how nasty it is. Now imagine if you just spent several hours of hard work to make that butter that you can no longer eat.
So, preservation was something people looked for. In some climates, they could collect ice during the winter and store it underground to act like ice cellars. In other, more temperate climates, they couldn't. But in certain areas, like England, Ireland and the Netherlands, they has damp, swampy areas of peat moss called bogs. And, if they buried things in the bogs, it would stay, if not actually cold, then cool.
Butter being so labor intensive to produce, it was commonly placed in wooden kegs and buried. Other staples like meat could be preserved in other methods, or fresh meat could be hunted. Or if worse comes to worst, they could cut the rotten bits off of meat. but butter, if it ran out or went bad, it took a lot of hard work to get more.
Too bad people back then were the same as they are now. That is, we forget where we left things. Today, the men who harvest turf out of the old peat bogs will occasionally find old casks of bog butter. In fact, bog butter is the most common thing found. But you have to be careful when it comes to bog butter. Not all of it is actual butter. It could also be the rotted remains of an animal.
There are chefs in the countries where bog butter is found that use it in their cooking. And I don't mean they take fresh, modern butter and bury it in a bog for a while. No, they take the old bog butter and use it to season their dishes. I hear it has a pungent taste.
So, how old is bog butter? Well, there was a 100 pound cask found in Ireland in 2011. The cask was carbon dated to 5,000 years old. And since wooden casks didn't usually last for many years, it's presumed the butter inside is also that age. And yes, an Irish chef has used a small part in his cooking.
Me? I think I'll use the modern butter when I make my shrimp scampi. I don't really feel the need to eat butter that's thousands of years old.
I like fossils. I just don't feel like eating any.