more culinary musings

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Wed Jan 26 22:29:23 UTC 2011

Likely yes to Paul, no to Alice. The issue comes up in the context of
making some deserts (puddings and such) where butter is a separately
measured ingredient--the "butter" in "bread-and-butter" is never a part
of that measurement and the quantity, if it is to be spread on the
bread, is never stated.

One recipe is "bread fritters", which is something between French toast
and donuts--jam between two slices of "bread-and-butter", dipped in
milk-egg-flour batter and fried in lard. Perhaps what is intended is
just regular split-top loaf topped with butter during baking (i.e.,
"butter-top" bread). It is certainly one kind of bread baking (as
opposed to, say, egg wash, or simple lame incisions).

Speaking of lame, OED has lame n.1 "thin plate, esp. of metal"--a very
generic sense. There is no specific reference to a lame cutter, e.g.,
the tool for bread-making that consists of a long handle and a sharp
blade (looks like a safety razor blade). You can find a sample of these
in King Arthur catalog. The OED quotations also stop in 1894. Update?


PS: I'm not entirely sure how to classify "bread-and-butter pickles".
One logical category would be bread-and-butter 2., which essentially
means "staple", but I am not convinced that's how the term came about
(there is nothing "daily" about bread-and-butter pickles--a failed
marketing campaign by Heinz, perhaps?). Most people I've talked to about
this find the reference obscure and confusing--not one person I've
informally surveyed (out of about 25, about 12 years ago) mentioned this
meaning as the likely origin. Some suggested some possibly connection to
"buttery" taste (but what's the bread?). Others guessed that they are
good to eat with bread-and-butter (chips--maybe, but spears??). Is it a
mystery worth solving?

On 1/26/2011 4:17 PM, Paul wrote:
> paul johnson wrote
> wouldn't it mean, 'slice a piece of bread off a loaf and butter it'? If
> not. what's the recipe?

On 1/26/2011 4:24 PM, Alice Faber wrote:
> On 1/26/11 4:10 PM, Victor Steinbok wrote:
>> I came across this in a 1880 cookbook. Normally, when someone refers to
>> bread-and-butter, I assume it to be a slice of bread spread with a thin
>> layer of butter. But what does it mean when the cookbook says, "Slice
>> bread-and-butter"?
> Bread and butter pickles, maybe?

The American Dialect Society -

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