In the age of “streamlining” and a cultural crusade to eliminate clutter, conventional wisdom cautions (or scorns) us against letting single-purpose gadgets pile up in drawers and cabinets. I, for one, feel a deep-seated (albeit probably unjustified) moral opposition to things like garlic presses and melon ballers. But one highly specific impulse-purchased kitchen item has brought untold amounts of joy to my day-to-day life. That item, friends, is a butter dish.
My butter dish doesn’t save me time, or save me money, or promise a gourmet weeknight meal in 20 minutes or less. It doesn’t actually do anything, being just a butter-shaped plate with a lid. The butter dish serves only one purpose, and that purpose is to enable me to leave a stick of butter on my kitchen counter all the time — and to never again settle for a rock-hard, bread-mauling slab of butter-colored granite.
Inside its cozy ceramic crock, the butter not only remains at room temperature; it also stays safely tucked away from the light, air, and bacteria that might otherwise degrade it outside the fridge. (Yes, when armed with a butter dish, it’s perfectly safe to leave your butter out. You wouldn’t want to leave it sitting on the counter for months on end — but I mean, we’re talking about delicious, creamy, soft, spreadable butter. How on earth could you?)
After so many soft slices of bread utterly torn asunder by a forceful knife-drag of cold butter, it feels a little transformative to simply have soft, supple, bread-friendly butter right there on my counter, within reach, ready and waiting. Buttered toast with fried eggs, buttered bread with hot soup, buttered toast as a mid-morning snack — it’s a revelation. And on a personal level, after years of convincing myself that low-fat cooking spray and zucchini “noodles” were just as good as the real thing (“even better, honestly!!!”), reaching for my butter dish and gliding a dull knife through a velvet-soft pat of Kerrygold feels like nothing short of a triumph.
On a less philosophical level: a butter dish simply looks nice on your countertop. The particular butter dish I chose is aesthetically unremarkable — mine is a plain white, ceramic butter dish picked up at the T.J. Maxx checkout line for $3 — but I’m dizzied by the options out there: there’s classic, sturdy Le Creuset; smooth, minimalist ceramic; and kitschy vintage jadeite. Put your butter in a swan, a bell jar, a fake stick of butter. Just put your butter somewhere, so that you, like me, can butter your bread properly — and in doing so, steal a tiny bit of pedestrian pleasure out of each day. I promise you’ll never go back.