Butter Is A Savory Staple Ingredient In Parisian Sandwiches

Here in the U.S. mayonnaise may be our top sandwich condiment, with mustard a close second. The only dairy product we typically use on a sandwich, however, is a slice or two of cheese. Over in Europe, however, it's quite a different story. In the U.K., butter on sandwiches is apparently so common that British tourists have found it somewhat of a shocker to realize that such practice isn't standard on our side of the pond. Great Britain, however, isn't the only butter-loving nation. France, too, is quite fond of sandwiches au beurre, particularly in Paris.

Two different Americans abroad had a completely different take on this French phenomenon. One, writing for the vowel-challenged culinary website The Kitchn, enthused over the Parisian preference for butter-slathered baguette sandwiches. Another, however, touched off a hot debate among her TikTok followers when she posted a video of herself making a classic jambon au beurre and suggested that most Americans would find the inclusion of butter "kind of crazy" or otherwise off-putting. The TikToker did say she felt that the sandwiches were okay and summed up with a halfhearted, "Don't knock it 'til you've tried it," but many commenters seemed to take exception to her characterizing buttered sandwich bread as anything out of the ordinary. As one person put it, "How is that crazy? It's the most simple, basic sandwich." Others noted that buttering sandwich bread is the norm in much of Europe, not just Paris.

Some sandwiches go better with butter

Butter is, of course, de rigueur for the classic Parisian three-ingredient sandwich called jambon-beurre, as the name of the dish literally translates to "ham-butter" (the unsung third ingredient being the bread). The TikTok sandwich maker from the video referenced above says she only uses butter on French-style ham baguettes, but she may be missing out. There are actually many other types of sandwiches that lend themselves to this treatment. Salami sandwiches can also be buttered, which is apparently how they do it in Milan. In Denmark, open-faced sandwiches called smørrebrød have a name that actually means "buttered bread." To make one, you, yes, butter a slice of bread, then pile on shrimp, boiled eggs, roast beef, or other tasty toppings. 

While many prefer mayo as their grilled cheese secret ingredient, the classic way to make such a sandwich is to butter the bread on the outside as this lubricant helps it to fry up crunchy and golden. Some people even go the double-butter route and butter their peanut butter. (Well, at least the bread that lies beneath the brown stuff.) If you adhere to the view that hot dogs and hamburgers are sandwiches, buttering the bun adds an extra level of flavor. In fact, the Midwestern fast food chain Culver's is famous for its buttered-bun burgers. A steak sandwich, too, can benefit from bovine bounty since it tastes best when made with garlic bread, a necessary component of which is also butter.