Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Far from Dairyland

I'm on the record as one who loves Southern food, but my trip to Birmingham, Ala. last weekend reminded me that the South doesn't get everything right, culinarily speaking.

I was eating breakfast at a restaurant called Chappy's Deli, and I wanted butter for my toast. To my dismay, the caddy on the table held not butter but, instead, small packets labeled "whipped spread." Now, I have only lived in the Dairy State for six years, but I do know butter from whipped spread.

So I asked the server for some butter. She pointed at the whipped spread. "The butter's right there," she said.

"Um," I began.

"Oh, you want real butter," she said. She disappeared, then returned with a small bowl full of butter.

Whipped spread and the like are standard at many Southern diners. At a Waffle House I visited in Kentucky last year, the server seemed genuinely surprised when I asked for real butter, and in that case was not able to produce any. (I didn't bother inquiring about real maple syrup.)

Am I a Wisconsin snob? Do Southerners really not care whether the butter is real?

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