[Sca-cooks] cow butter?

Terry Decker t.d.decker at att.net
Thu Jun 3 04:49:56 PDT 2010

> Guillaume posted two recipes from "Nuevo Arte de Cocina" which might be 
> for fur seals, although I'm not sure that the directions for cooking a fur 
> seal and a pike fish would be combined. The two animals seem so different.

As I recall, dietary rules made some very odd determinations as to what were 
"fish."  Taxonomic distinctions that are normal for you and I are largely a 
product of the 18th Century.

> Another thing in the recipe that has me wondering is the mention of "cow 
> butter". Is there no general term for "butter" in Spanish? Or do recipes 
> tend to call out specific types of butter?

Manteca or mantequilla, although, I believe, here in the U.S. you are more 
likely to encounter manteca being used as the short form of manteca de cerdo 
or lard.  I would say the cook is being very specific about the butter to 
achieve a certain effect.

> Other than things like salted butter or unsalted butter, (well and 
> Icelandic fermented butter, which we've discussed), I didn't realize that 
> there were different types of butter from different animals. I know that 
> cheese is often made from sheep's milk or goat's milk, but I've not heard 
> of goat or sheep butter before. I don't remember seeing other butters in 
> my grocery store. But maybe it is available in some ethnic stores?

Butter type is largely a cultural thing based on the most common 
domesticated animals in a culture.  Butter has been produced from cows, 
sheep, goats, water buffalos, yaks, and even camels.  The general 
American/European bias toward cow butter is most probably an artifact of 
availability, quantity, and fat content.  The French, being their contrarian 
Gallic selves, also produce goat butter (IIRC).

> Do we see "sheep" or "goat" butter called out in some medieval recipes?
> Are there certain milks which won't coagulate into butter? What about 
> human milk?
> Stefan

Butter is made from cream rather than milk and is a condensed, emulsified 
fat.  ISTR, that there are mammal milks which do not contain enough fat to 
make cream and that human milk is among them, but I would suggest 
researching that rather than take my spotty memories as gospel.


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