There are a lot of expat lists dedicated to the question: What would you miss most if you no longer lived in Paris? Many of the answers cover the spectrum – the more relaxed, laissez-faire way of life, the fashion, the fabulous, inexpensive wine, the accent, that certain je ne sais quois – the list goes on (as it should, this place is fantastic). But one thing that is routinely praised and included across the board? Butter.
You know, that miraculous thing we at home use as a substitute for Pam when we need to grease the pots or find in tubs filed under no-fat-no-sugar-hypo-allergenic-no-trans-fat-you-might-as-well-be-eating-cardboard butter. If you tried serving that to a French person, they’d probably come back with one of their favorite phrases of all time: “Ce n’est pas possible,” or, “it is not possible.” And they’d be right. Life’s too short to eat mediocre butter (you can write that down), so if you’re going to have it, go big or go home. Yes, there are a million great things about living in Paris and yes, the butter is most certainly one of them.
So what makes the French stuff so delicious? A combination of things really – the higher butterfat content (some say 80% versus 82%, so when you think about it, it’s only like 10 extra minutes on the treadmill and totally worth it), the fact that it’s made from cultured cream, the regions of Brittany and Normandy where the very best (and one must assume happiest) cows reside, the diet of said cows, even the quality of the salt that’s mixed in – all combine to form the most wonderful, most awesome thing to happen to your sliced bread since, well, sliced bread.
Because no self-respecting French person would accept it otherwise, good butter is available at the supermarkets here in Paris. But truly great butter is available at La Grande Epicerie de Paris in the 7th arrondissement. It comes with the name Bordier, wrapped up in unassuming white paper that, once you’ve had it, calls you like a beacon of light from the refrigerated section. There are a lot of numbers I could throw out there as to why Monsieur Bordier has what is widely regarded as the best buerre in France (and if you’ve earned the title of best butter in France, it might as well be the world, right?) like 36: the number of hours needed for the maturing process to take place or 3: the number of days it takes to make the butter start to finish. But how about we just stick with the only number you’ll need, 1: the number of times you’ll have to try it before swearing off everything else.
It’s almost as if you wish you never knew it existed, because once you do, you can never go back. Almost.