slath·er [ slát͟hər ]
1. spread something thickly: to spread something thickly or excessively on something else
2. large amount: a large or generous quantity
Slather. Slathered. Slathering.
Any form of the word ‘slather’ makes my mouth water. Silky and sultry, like a soft rain on a hot August night. The word slather slides off my tongue and I drool. There are many uses for the word ‘slather’, but there is one that stands out from the rest.
Slathering is for butter.
Of the four basic food groups, butter is definitely my favorite. It can be hot in a dipping bowl, soft on the kitchen table, or a cold, hard stick right out of the refrigerator; butter in any form, warms the cockles of my heart and brings me great joy. Butter-loving has always been a part of who I am; perhaps it’s part of my heritage, embedded in my DNA. Irishman David Feherty once quipped about a family recipe for soda bread, “It doesn’t really matter how it tastes, bread is just a delivery vehicle for butter!”
I am a butter lover. I love butter on bread, I love butter on vegetables, I love butter on fish, and I love it on rice. I’ll eat butter on just about anything. Until recently, I never gave a lot of thought to my buttery habits, particularly the way they have evolved at home.
For years I have been the target of Leigh’s (and her cholesterol’s) harping on my cavalier eating habits, particularly when it comes to butter. One ritual that frequently comes under attack is the sound of a knife cutting butter slices on the kitchen counter. There is a distinctive “thunk!” sound that mysteriously reverberates through out the house. It doesn’t matter how softly or slowly I lower the knife, or how many paper-towels I place beneath the stick of butter, the tell-tale “Thunk. Thunk. Thunk” always gives me away. She once commented on my buttery habits, “I don’t think you’re a deviant, but you are definitely not normal!” (I think we were talking about butter…)
Yet hope springs eternal. No matter how many times I’ve been foiled by her ‘thunk-blocking’ tactics, I press on. Thunk-muting has become my personal passion because if there is one thing that I know, I know this: Thunking always leads to slathering. It is the natural course of the universe.
When I am home alone, of course, you may find me thunking and slathering to my heart’s delight. Although anything can be a delectable delivery vehicle for butter, there are several favorites from Pat’s Menu of Buttery Treats:
– The 21 Gun Salute: Butter, Tortilla Chips. The perfect afternoon snack in your own Oval Office. When home alone, some people roll out long rows of Hershey Kisses on the kitchen counter or a dozen Bon Bons on a TV tray; I like to line up 21 tortilla chips, each with “moderately excessive” slices of butter. My pulse quickens as I write this.
– Total Eclipse of the Sun: Butter, Bread (toasted or plain). A main course in its own right. Total coverage is the key: Nary a grain of wheat should be peeking through minimum 1/4″ thick slather of butter. This is like a thicker version of the peanut butter and jelly sandwich, minus the peanut or the jelly.
– Popcorn Fingers: Popcorn, Butter, Fingers. The snack food that keeps on giving. Below the flickering lights of the big screen is the perfect setting to combine the thrills of eating slathered butter and the risk of getting caught in public. Ooh la la! Men with mustaches have been known to enjoy the buttery aroma long after the credits have faded. Add salt as desired.
Butter, at any temperature, is the nectar of the Gods. Needless to say, I’m pretty proud my thunk-muting tricks and solo-slathering skills have sharpened and refined as well as they have. Until recently.
Sitting with my new doctor to review some “getting to know you” blood tests, screening tests and scans, she grabbed a notepad and pencil and began to sketch out the heart system (I kinda wished she had crayons). Paraphrasing, in 10 words or less, she said, “Cholesterol. Ventricles. Arteries. Plaque. Not. The. Widowmaker. Diet.Exercise. ”
After staring at the stick-figure drawing in her hand for a moment, I looked at her and said, “Before I met you, I was perfectly healthy.”
Thunking and Slathering. Will we ever dance again?