Forget Instagram. In the 2020s the new food influencers are all using Tic Toc. And on 15 September 2022, one of the craziest (my view) Tic Toc ideas suddenly went viral: the butter board. It started with a post by New York cook Justine Doiron, who happens to be a member of the “U.S. Dairy Dream Team” of influencers (although she claimed that the post was not an advertisement as U.S. Dairy originally rejected the idea). She didn’t invent the idea and cites cookbook author Joshua McFadden as her inspiration.
The butter board was promoted as an alternative to the classic charcuterie board and was, perhaps, a natural development of the trend of serving everything on a board (a trend that appals many and has even led to a Reddit group called We Want Plates). Doiron’s version consisted of butter smeared over a board and topped with flaky sea salt, lemon zest, herbs, red onion, honey and edible flowers. There have since been innumerable variations on the theme with a range of sweet and savouries toppings.
The original idea was that one dipped one’s bread or crackers into the buttery ooze, but the health hazards of double dipping have led some writers to recommend supplying each dinner with a small palette knife. Other hygiene concerns have been raised, including the chance of nasty bacteria lurking in the cracks of the wooden board. And, of course, heart health advocates are horrified about all that cholesterol-laden yellow fat. My own objections are aesthetic. All that room-temperature butter rapidly turning oily under lights – no thanks.
The butter board trend has had serious media attention, including from The Guardian and The Washington Post. Some articles assert that you can’t just squish soft butter on a board. You need to whip it first, so it becomes light and creamy. This, according to the pundits, brings out the subtleties of the taste. It’s also recommended that you use gourmet butter. In Australia, that probably means Pepe Saya, although if you’re going to make the distinctively Aussie Fairy Bread Butter Board, perhaps your standard supermarket version would suffice.
Butter boards are just one of the many crazes that have swept through the Tic Toc world. These include (but are by no means limited to) cloud bread (a kind of squishy meringue ), baked oats, “marry-me” chicken (basically chicken in cream) and whipped coffee, also known as Dalgona coffee. Not all are truly appealing, with at least one article giving watermelon and cucumber a firm thumbs down.