[Sca-cooks] lard vs. olive oil vs. butter

Terry Decker t.d.decker at att.net
Sat Nov 22 04:27:16 PST 2008

> Bear said:
> <<< From what I've read, the local fats of southern Europe tended to  be 
> lard
> rather than butter and I'm curious as to how extensively butter was  used 
> in
> the Moslem cultures of the period. >>>
> Yes, we've discussed butter use in southern Europe previously. But I 
> thought the alternative was olive oil, although lard is also likely.
> Butter being used less because it doesn't keep as well in warmer 
> climates. But when was olive oil used vs. lard? Why would each be  used? I 
> might at first say lard was cheaper than olive oil, but that  might not 
> have been the case in the Middle Ages.
> Like butter, lard wouldn't have been used on fish days, right? And  lard, 
> typically (always?) from pigs wouldn't have been used in the  Moslem parts 
> of southern Europe.
> Stefan

The point of some of the previous posts in the thread is puff pastry is a 
technology transfer from Moslem to Christian Europe.  The contention is that 
the basic technique of puff pastries using butter moved from one to the 
other.  Olive oil was used by both cultures.  Moslems and Jews used sheep 
and chicken fat.  Christians used lard (the pig was ubiquitous in Europe and 
lard was cheaper than olive oil, particularly in northern Europe).  AFAIK, 
butter is the least used fat in southern Europe.  Unless one can answer how 
and when butter became the fat of choice in Moslem pastries, then the 
contention that puff pastry is a transfer from Moslem to Christian Europe is 

Olive oil and leaf pastry almost certainly pre-dates Islam in Europe, so 
might not butter and leaf pastry be a central European substitution that was 
adopted by the Ottomans?  What, and how solid, is the evidence for any of 
these positions?


More information about the Sca-cooks mailing list