I was raised on AA Milne’s The King’s Breakfast. I, like the King, preferred plain butter to marmalade on my bread. I still do… spreading it thickly on nasty old crusts to make them more palatable. Do I feel guilty about this “guilty pleasure”? Just occasionally – when friends and relatives flaunt their holier than thou healthy spreads: Flora, Benecol, etc. But these are not only disgusting to eat (I’d rather skip the toast or bread, to be honest – which probably would be healthier – than have them spread with one of these) I have spoken to many experts over the years who’ve strongly disputed their much marketed health claims. Last summer one of the PRs for Flora told me the company was planning a press event at which we journos would all get to make our own Flora from scratch – fascinating! – it sounded like something from Jimmy’s Food Factory and I couldn’t wait to roll up my sleeves and get stuck in, certain I’d be even less likely to want to eat it as a result. But when the invitation finally came through, it was for a demonstration with chef James Tanner and dietician Nigel Denby ‘cooking and serving scrummy recipes using Flora Buttery’… Not quite what I had in mind.
Next to the huge companies who make spreads like Flora, poor old butter hardly gets a look in PR-wise. The voices who shout loudest always tend to be believed. But last week a heart expert stepped up and spoke out about butter v spreads, and today Dr John Briffa has a great piece on this in the Times newspaper.
I was delighted, reading it, as I spread some lovely butter on my bread to eat with my tomato and mozzarella salad. As Dr Briffa says, butter should not be a guilty pleasure – just a pleasure. As AA Milne’s King knew only too well.