Look, I know you're jealous. It's ok, you can admit it. I won't hold it against you.
I mean, I know you've been dying to go there, and really, who wouldn't? Other than bacon, there is perhaps no greasy deliciousness more beloved than butter. I would even venture to say that, based on the number of bacon-free cultures in the world, butter may, in fact, be the most beloved. So who would not feel honored, and perhaps a little overwhelmed, at the opportunity to take in the majesty of that holiest of dairy-based shrines, the Cork Butter Museum?
"It really is worth a visit" didn't even warrant an exclamation point?
Of all the famous foods in Ireland (tons, I assure you), I suspect the one about which you've heard the most is oats. Everyone knows how the Irish love their porridge, right? No, not so much? Turnips then, is it? …OHHH! Guinness, right? (I admit it is rather more like a food than a drink.)
…that's not it, you say? Wait, what — potatoes? Hmm. I'll have to think on that one a while.
In any case, from porridge to potatoes, most things go better with butter! (I daresay, a hot buttered Guinness would go down a treat. It's a shame there isn't such a thing!) Irish butter really should have its own TED talk, win the Nobel Deliciousness Prize, a buttery golden Oscar, and probably the FIFA cup. Because, you see, there is nothing more plentiful and delicious on all the island — and no other Irish food that has it's own, golden-colored museum!
No English? No problem! You can still enjoy the wonders of butter, burro, mantequilla, 黃油, boter, masło, butir, le beurre, and of course "im" (Irish for butter). Butter is the universal language!
Besides translation guides, there are displays, plaques, and even a short film with which to edify yourself. Did you know, for example, that prehistoric Irish peoples used to store their butter in bogs? Garlic-y and rancid was just how they liked it, oh my, yes! There is, in fact, a keg of thousand-year old butter on display. (A little known fact is that butter, like wine, improves with age. Maybe.) Bogs: not just for bodies anymore!
Please, sir! My butter's gone all manky. May I swap it for something fresher?
Perhaps more to the point, Cork was a center of dairy commerce for Ireland and the rest of the globe. Seriously, it was the biggest and best butter exchange in the entire world! With Cobh being one of the largest natural harbors, and with the abundance of lovely green grass and hungry cows, it seems that dairy export was simply a part of the natural order of things. In the 19th century, butter was booming beautifully!
You will also be delighted, or perhaps disappointed, to know that "firkin" is not a swear word. I suspect that you can still fool a great number of people into thinking otherwise, however. Not all of them will have had the pleasure of visiting the Butter Museum in Cork. And, as their eyes widen in shock and consternation, you can sagely tap your nose, nod, and repeat expansively, "Ah, yes! Butter firkins! So round, so firm! …It's been a while since I've had my way with a butter firkin!" Be sure to sigh longingly and smile disarmingly, perhaps with a bit of a mad gleam in your eye.
(By the way, the sign above reads: "BUTTER TRIER (20th Century) This device was used to remove a sample of butter from a firkin or box…" Much more sanitary than fingers, are firkins.)
'ware the devil's milk maid!
No tourist spot in Ireland would be complete without a bit of folklore and, possibly, magic. In this case, it's all about mysterious cases of milk and butter theft! There are several large panels on the wall with such tales painstakingly written out in cursive, recorded directly from the mouth of the neighbor of the cousin of the descendant of the roof thatcher who originally overheard it at pub. It's that authentic!
The story above tells of a house that appeared out of the blue, 2 curious men, and a mysterious woman of unusual milking skill: "…The two men kept watching and then they saw the bucket over flow [sic]. She put that milk into the churn and began to churn. When she had churned and the butter made she disappeared and was never seen again."
Just like that, good gracious! Who knows what sort of demon-spawned churner of madness they had discovered? They were fortunate to have escaped with their very souls intact, let alone their lives.
If it is a musical instrument, it is a very soft and squishy one.
If you are very lucky — and I do mean VERY — you may find yourself up around Shandon on a festival day, where you'll have the chance to see a live butter-making demonstration. And if, by chance, you are even MORE lucky, you might get to taste some of that delectable, creamed gold!
However, even if you are not quite that lucky, you will still get a chance to purchase some lovely souvenirs from the museum shop. There are books, including the limited edition A little bit of butter, as well as postcards of the area and of famous butter brand wrappers. Who could ask for more?
Well, maybe one thing more. I think there is a need to spread (see what I did there? "spread"?) the silly. I'm awfully fond of limericks. However, seeing as we are talking about Cork here, I don't think we'll go that route. This time let's go for a butter-themed tongue twister, shall we? Here is a sample to get you in the mood:
Betty Botter bought a bit of butter.
The butter Betty Botter bought was a bit bitter
And made her batter bitter.
But a bit of better butter makes better batter.
So Betty Botter bought a bit of better butter
Making Betty Botter's bitter batter better
Your Call to Arms!
1) Write a butter-themed tongue twister.*
3) If you have a blog or other social media accounts you'd like promoted, include that information in the comment or tweet.
4) Bask in my eternal thanks and know that you are among the Best of the Buttered Babble Battlers!
I will retweet, share, and possibly include in a future blog post your magical, butter-inspired works. If you ask nicely, I will take a copy of your poem up to the Butter Museum and take a photo of it by the sign, which will be likewise tweeted and shared, that the world shall know of your greatness.
* Other forms of poetry will also be considered if they pass the Milk Standard (causing laughter great enough that milk shoots out the noses of the listeners). The haiku, for example, has much to recommend it.
Spread the Better Butter Babble Battle!