Khosrova’s travels included a trip to Bhutan, where she witnessed a local milking a yak.
One of her most interesting discoveries was the role that butter played in sacred rituals, dating as far back as the ancient Sumerians. From sacred Tibetan butter carvings to Hindu mythology, butter has at times been considered a spiritual tool.
“Being from the west, this is not on our radar, not part of our culture,” Khosrova said. Traveling to remote places and learning about the rituals of different cultures helped her expand her awareness of more than just butter.
“I feel like this process was a lesson in not taking things for granted. I learned to dig a little deeper. One of my favorite poets Mary Oliver instructs us to pay attention, be astonished, and go tell people about it. I feel that’s what happened as I created this book. I paid attention to butter, was really astonished and had to go tell people about it. It has become a deeper instruction for my life.”
The decision to celebrate butter also came at a propitious time. In the last decade, butter’s reputation has started to recover from the misinterpreted research that suggested it contributes to diabetes, heart disease and obesity. The notion that butter was bad began to solidify in the 1960s and ’70s, and played a part in the popularity of low-fat diets.
Scientists eventually realized that the food-fat-makes-body-fat theory was based on bad science. The ban on butter and other fats didn’t make the next generation any healthier. Butter is no longer considered a culprit.
“In 2015 the FDA backtracked on what they previously said. When they told us not to eat food high in cholesterol, that was wrong,” said Khosrova. “Now we know there’s no connection between the cholesterol in food and the cholesterol in our bloodstream.”
Not only was butter exonerated, but a June 2016 study found possible health benefits to eating full-fat dairy products, such as improved insulin sensitivity and reduced inflammation. One third of the fat in butter is oleic acid—the same kind of fat found in olive oil. Butter, especially from grass-fed animals, also contains conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA, that helps prevent heart disease and cancer.
Does that mean we can start eating butter by the stick? It may be good for you, but at over 200 calories per ounce, it’s still densely caloric. Moderation is key in any healthy lifestyle, suggests Khosrova. Eat things that are delicious, but in moderation. Savor the occasional buttery treat. Just don’t overdo it.
When it comes to sampling her culinary and current literary obsession, she prefers to keep things simple. Her favorite way to savor butter involves bread. “I love good bread and good butter,” she said. “I could eat it every day. As far as treats go, it would have to be pie. I make a good buttery pie crust.”
With no books currently planned on other topics, Khosrova continues to happily indulge in her butter obsession, soon to launch a blog that focuses on this flavorful foodstuff. It promises to be delicious.