• Jake O'Brien Murphy


Let’s take a second to talk about butter. Melted butter in particular. Purley elemental, liquid sunshine; its application is manifold. It’s effects on food, and the soul, profoundly good. The great leveler, proving we are all cut from the same cloth. The unification of mankind will come with buttery toast in tow. I want to talk about butter because recently I revisited Poland and I think it changed me. Praise be to the Samaritan reformers of butter.

Polish hospitality comes with a lot of baggage; born out of hardship and pragmatic romance. It resonates in a primordial sort of way. To sit at a Polish dining table is to enter into a non-negotiable agreement with your hosts; a meal means so much more than the sum of its ingredients and dishes. It has the weight of old-world extravagance, kinship, and togetherness, the Polish table is a celebration of community and hard-won traditions. There is seemingly a salutation for any and every occasion. Which, for purely academic reasons, of course, suits me just fine. Polish vodka is, in my opinion, some of the finest in the world. I am willing to put money on anyone else being convinced of this by the time the desert, or their head, hits the table.

It was my first time in Wroclaw. A wonderfully modern city with a painfully cool emerging middle class. Perched perilously on the razors edge of gentrification; soon to become the kind of people who ride fixie bikes to their cloud-based design jobs. Who spend their weekends’ rock climbing and contorting into inhuman auto-fellating shapes in reclaimed activewear and calling it “Bikram Yoga”. The loathsome individuals who spend their evenings pontificating about drinking vinegar and natural wine. I felt right at home. I felt even more at home in Jadka, the kind of place you see from some unknown distance on Instagram as a person you follow, just to hate posts, about it. The food was delicious, it smacked of that same Polish pragmatism I love so dearly. It was robust and hearty tied together into exuberant brilliance with subtle strokes finesse.

Nothing could have prepared me for what was to follow, the staccato slurring of another “Sto Lat” began again as another dinner guest erupted into the same uproarious toast. A single pierogi was laid in front of me. Immaculately presented in a shimmering golden ether of butter. Now I have eaten pierogi all over Poland. In fact, I am not ashamed to say this wasn’t my first pierogi of the day. But, this was something entirely different. This was a pierogi for a new world. The interstellar mothership, powered by hot liquid butter that could set a new course for humanity. When Alex Turner put the words of Dr. John Cooper Clarke’s “I wanna be yours” to music he had taken something already fundamentally good and somehow improved upon it. He had added butter. It just made sense. In the same way, whatever cosmic transubstantiation had taken place on my plate; it just made sense. I worship at the altar of the infinite butter dish.

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