Time was when butter was almost a staple in every British household up and down the land. Then came the Second World War and rationing, so that butter was a severely restricted commodity. It may have been this situation that inspired A.A.Milne to write his poem ‘The King’s Breakfast,’ in which the King asked the Queen, and the Queen asked the Dairymaid: “Could we have some butter for the Royal slice of bread?”
The long and short of the poem is that the King finally got some butter to put on his bread after declining to be fobbed off with marmalade. All’s well that ends well, perhaps, but what about his cholesterol level?
A few decades ago cholesterol was discovered, or rather invented, since when humankind has been advised to desist from consuming butter, and to go for other foodstuffs. Margarine was touted as a suitable alternative for many years, despite its less than exciting taste and marketers’ claims that it tasted ‘more like butter than butter itself.’ But now margarine is out of favour and we are all told by the health experts to go back to basic butter. Does this mean that nobody cares about our cholesterol level any more?
The same process happened with oil. First one kind of oil, then another was deemed unhealthy because they promote the propagation of nasty radicals in our bloodstream, ultimately causing hardening of the arteries, congestion in blood vessels and other horrible things. There was only one oil that gained universally approval – canola oil (apart from olive oil, which apparently has beneficial properties).
So we stocked up on canola oil, baked with it, cooked and fried with it, and generally felt that we were doing right by our families.
But lo and behold! Now canola oil is denigrated, demoted and disparaged. It, too, causes nasty radicals to be fruitful and multiply, and is no longer recommended. So what is a person to do?
Have you tried baking biscuits (cookies to those of you in the US) with olive oil? Or any oil instead of butter or margarine? It just doesn’t work. My daughter-in-law, who is an expert on matters concerning health and the culinary arts, has strictly forbidden me to bake anything ever again with margarine. That only leaves butter, the taste of which, as it happens, is anathema to certain members of my household who shall remain nameless.
So when I baked the delicious tehina biscuits that I love and which are considerably less unhealthy than many of the other things I like to have with my morning coffee I used oil instead of butter.
What I got were crumbs. Lots and lots of crumbs. Whenever I tried to pick up what resembled a biscuit on the baking tray, it crumbled away in my hand.
The French wouldn’t dream of baking anything with margarine or oil. Butter abounds in the contents of whatever is sold in their patisseries. I don’t recall hearing that French people are any less healthy than anyone else in the world.
What I’d like to know is what’s going to be banned next by the health food gurus.
Meanwhile, it’s back to butter for me, and to hell with the consequences.