In the November 1997 issue of Food & Wine is a charming holiday reminiscence by Julia Child. She tells of growing up in a comfortably well-off home in which her mother (with the help of the “upstairs maid”) pulled out all the stops when it came to setting the Thanksgiving dinner table.

At a last-minute pre-dinner inspection of the silver and damask and elegant place settings, Child’s mother noticed that the 18 individual silver butter plates were all empty of the perfect curls of butter she expected to see.  Erna, the maid, was also mystified.

“But I rolled them myself, using the chilled wooden paddle, the way you showed me,” the maid said. “I put them on the plates just a few minutes ago.”

Child goes on to say:

“Suddenly, Mother roared, ‘Where’s Eric?’ our dearly beloved old airedale. . . . Eric lumbered in and sat beside her with an attentive, ‘Who, me?’ expression.”

Case closed.

Crispin prefers to take his purloined butter by the stick. I think if he ever entered a room filled with soft lights and snowy linen, and found 18 plates of butter–unguarded butter!–he might simply faint dead away on the spot.

After he’d carefully cleaned all those plates, of course.

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