I Told You So

I hate to say I told you so.


When everyone around here was telling me my glass dish was used for garlic, and I disagreed, insisting it’s for butter. I finally got proof-positive.


Last week, I was shopping at Zabar’s, hoping actually to pick up a few more of my favorite knives.

But you guys must’ve gotten them all, because they were all out and they don’t stock them anymore. (grrr..) Dejected, I was poking around, hoping to find something to get that little jolt “buyers rebound”, when I spotted on the corner shelf, by the marmalade and honey jars, a row of covered glass dishes, that looked remarkably…no, exactly…like mine!

I won’t bring up the joke about why flying saucers never land on the lawns of Jewish people, but flip it over I did, and it said Made by Anchor Hocking. It didn’t quite have a description of what it was (although it was nowhere near anything garlic-related in the store), so I searched on Google, and lo and behind—it is indeed a butter dish.

Now I’m entirely convinced that I’m right and either the folks around here are playing a cruel joke on the gullible American, or what, but now I’ve got proof-positive, since I learned the truth on the internet.

And although we don’t always agree on everything, everyone knows, French and American, that if it’s on the internet, it must be true.

So there.

Never miss a post!


  • sam
    October 27, 2008 11:46am

    Are think they must have been pulling your legs. I have seen garlic keepers that shape – but they are made of clay to absorb moisture and you can actually put them in the oven for roasting said garlic too. What use would a glass garlic jar be?

  • October 27, 2008 11:55am

    Dear heart, it IS a butter dish. You use it to store your butter UPSIDE DOWN, possibly with water in a little well at the bottom to seal it and keep it fresh. I use one also, here in the states, and it is actually pretty great, except when the kitchen is too warm.


  • judy gal
    October 27, 2008 11:58am

    David, (I LOVE your food blog…) I have several of these butter dishes. They are
    small, simple in design and I love to use 2 or 3 on dining table when entertaining..it releaves that ‘Pass the butter, please’ chatter. I allow the butter to soften, fill the bottom … later, when I use the ‘leftover’ butter, it reminds me of sharing a meal with wonderful friends and/or family.
    And, I love Paris — you lucky guy!

  • Susan
    October 27, 2008 12:52pm

    Well…Fine! I’m still going to store the wicks for my oil lamp in it.

  • October 27, 2008 1:16pm

    Andrea: Well, in the “garlic-keeper” camp, I’d say there wasn’t all that much room for butter in there. Especially with all the beurre that’s consumed around here!

    Sam: They tried to tell me you use it to store peeled cloves of garlic. But who the heck stores peeled cloves of garlic? Only some crazed pastry person that didn’t want to get his hands stinky every time he needed a clove or two ; )

    Susan: …now there’s one I haven’t heard…

    judy gal: Thanks for coming out as another “butter-keeper” user!

  • October 27, 2008 1:54pm

    Can’t believe there was any doubt over what this was. I also like to put several on a dining table. I also have a little wooden stamp so I can imprint a thistle onto the top of the butter.( I am a Scot) but there are various stamps available.

  • October 27, 2008 2:24pm

    Everybody knows what’s written in Internet is completely true, exactly the same way which was used to be with newspapers and television :).
    My grandmother was grand believer what comes from radio is ultimate truth, I mean, come on if it’s announced in public media, it just can’t be wrong!

    I’ve been reading your blog a while now and it’s both interesting and funny and I just can’t keep it myself, I simply love chocolate sauerkraut cake from your great chocolate book!

  • October 27, 2008 3:05pm

    Haha. Go David! That totally looks like it’s for butter. How would it be for garlic?

    Did they think it stored cloves?

  • October 27, 2008 3:06pm

    This glass dish did look familiar to me, but hmm, garlic? I don’t think so. When I read your comment about “a bit too small to store butter in”, I realised that the ones I’m used to are actually a lot bigger.

    Here in the Netherlands I have seen my grandmother use one of those. And she doesn’t use it for garlic or butter, but … (slight drumroll here) cheese! Might seem unusual for French and Americans alike, but she is from Gouda, so I am sure she knows what she is doing.

    Of course, this only works with hard cheeses. I wouldn’t recommend stacking camembert in one of those.

  • Carol
    October 27, 2008 3:10pm

    David, love your food blog! Makes me want to take a nice long trip to Paris.

    I have several of these for butter, but my prettiest ones (cut glass) are used in the bathroom to contain my cotton balls. I’m not sure why I started that, but just wanted something pretty instead of a plastic bag to hold them and voila! this fit the bill perfectly. And I’m with you…why peeled garlic? It isn’t that hard to do each time you need some.

  • Momcat
    October 27, 2008 3:15pm

    Why is it not ok to use it for whatever you want? I keep salt in a glass “candle jar” for a convenient grab at the stove; in my guest bath a crystal butter dome that’s too small for a stick of butter stores pretty soap. I guess there is a certain satisfaction in knowing what it “really is,” but you have cosmic permission to use your things as you please! If this were not so, we would still be keeping our Microplanes in the garage.

  • October 27, 2008 3:30pm

    I would have guessed butter myself. Cute dish.

  • October 27, 2008 4:11pm

    Certainly you were right. Speaking pratically and mannerly: If the vessel is glass, bone, or whathaveyou, sometimes non-heatproof earthenware as it was normally kept on a table or counter only. This shape is for butter, originating in France. A similar but not the same shape is used for garlic (generally for baking or storing) but is eathenware or the like and usually heatproof to a high temperature.

    The glass ones, like yours, also make lovely individual cloches at placesettings enclosing a blossom, small token, or tiny starter, when they are not used for butter. Why, I have been known to use them for any number of things. I should write something about this soon – I had no idea there was confusion or controversy!

    Glad to see your post! The Hostess

  • October 27, 2008 4:31pm

    I would have guessed a butter dish myself, but if it works for you, I might try sticking my garlic under there.

  • Annika
    October 27, 2008 4:56pm

    You just made my day. So cute… Of course it’s for butter! (Will get one for me too as soon as i am in Paris again.!) Who could doubt the internet could be wrong?!

  • October 27, 2008 5:28pm

    why don’t flying saucers land on Jewish people’s lawns?

  • October 27, 2008 6:10pm

    definitely, surely, this is a butter dish :)

  • October 27, 2008 8:10pm

    Of course that is a butter dish. Why didn’t you just ask me? I could have told you so right off.

  • October 27, 2008 8:16pm

    We’ve always used our 2 glass covered dishes for kosher salt. One lives next to the stove, the other on the kitchen table. They were a house warming gift 20 years ago, and were described to us as condiment dishes.

  • other side of the river
    October 27, 2008 10:25pm

    I’m in the butter, at first glance, camp, with a bit of water (refreshed often) to make a seal.

    Now why don’t flying saucers land on Jewish people’s lawns?

  • Deb
    October 28, 2008 4:56am

    I see a lot of ceramic ware in this shape at various craft fairs here in the western US. They are usually called – – wait now, – – ready? – – a French butter press. ;> Each potter will have their own glazes and shape, but the double walled structure is the same on all of them.

    Supposedly, if you put water in the bottom and butter in the top, it will stay fresh and spreadable out on the counter in all but the hottest of days.

    I’m not sure my dearly beloved could understand how to use it, and I’m sure I wouldn’t have the patience to wait for the butter to soften so I could pack it in there, (well, maybe for entertaining) so I’ve never tried one to see how well they work. ;>

    My beautiful handmade pottery garlic keeper is a round jar with holes in it to let the garlic breathe and a big cork top for easy access. There are also garlic roasters that are shaped like the lid of your butter dish and a flat tray bottom that can go into the oven.

  • Carol Murgatroyd
    October 28, 2008 6:43am

    A note to those who talk with confidence about using this container to “store your butter UPSIDE DOWN” and suggest one should “put water in the bottom and butter in the top” …you both need to take a deep, calming breath and really look at this little glass container! How exactly would you do that? As it happens, I have two of these lovely, little dishes and have, as others mentioned, put them out for a dinner party to stop the “pass the butter” thingie…plus they look adorable, of course. The dish you are both referring to, which I also have, is made the opposite way, i.e. the “top” goes INSIDE the “bottom”, so that the “bottom” is able to hold the water and the “top” holds the butter…damn that gravity, interfering with design! In this way the butter is “dunked” in the water and kept out of contact with the air and the fact that there is water and ceramic together keeps the whole thing relatively cool even on a hot day.
    To David…I’ve just signed up here after having seen a reference to Bacon Ice Cream on Oprah’s website with your URL in brackets and I’m tickled pink to have found you!
    Having been to gay Paree on several occasions thought I’d mention a wonderful kitchen shop (what an understatement) near the Louvre that you will surely want to visit if you don’t already know about it. It’s called Dehillerin. When I worked for Air Canada, our chef was a buddy of mine and he sent me to this store as a “must visit” on my trip. I came home with a full set of gorgeous copper pots that would have cost at least 7 or 8 times the price if I could have even found them in Canada. It’s an amazing store. On that same trip I was also “sent” to the restaurant “Le Train Bleu” in the Gare de Lyon by this man and it was a most wonderful experience. Thanks for being there, David!!

  • Linda Foy
    October 28, 2008 7:58am

    Me too – “why don’t flying saucers land on Jewish people’s lawns?”

  • October 28, 2008 11:48am

    Not fair, David – give it up! Tell us the flying saucer joke. I couldn’t find it on the internet.

    Nice to see you back and posting. Were you recovering from your vacation?

  • Vivienne
    October 28, 2008 11:53am

    That to which Carol refers is known as a “butter bell”. I’ve seen ads for them in various cooking magazines and they are available here in Canada and the US in ceramic form. It’s VERY important to change the water regularly! David, I’m just new to your blog. Thank you for your intelligence and sense of humour.

  • Susan
    October 28, 2008 12:19pm

    “I hate to say I told you so?” Are you kidding, nobody hates to say that! It’s a big Buzz!

    I agree with you, the dish is for a spread, be it butter or another. There used to be an Italian restaurant in the south bay that served a blended butter/cheese concoction in a similar dish along with the bread. I thought it was so cute! But..it’s really a double serving size at most, as they are very small.

  • October 28, 2008 12:23pm

    Or maybe it is a diorama for a tiny little christmas scène, une mini-crèche de noël sous cloche :)

  • Toni
    October 28, 2008 1:42pm

    My Cuban-Jamaican grandmother had these for butter also, so the Caribbean has your back should we get into a garlic vs. butter war.

  • October 28, 2008 3:03pm

    Ok, the answer to the flying saucer joke is, “Because they always turn it over to see who made it.”

    (Although I’m told in Japan, it’s a ritual to turn over and admire the bottom and read the mark, of dinnerware if you’re a guest.)

    Kim: I was in Italy, with no access to the internet, plus dealing with some work and a bit of a head cold that made me feel all woozy. Plus I’m switching internet providers (and computers) so things are a bit topsy-turvy : )

  • eko
    October 28, 2008 3:39pm

    One uses a butter bell for storing butter (or just keep it on the counter and use often – as we do in our home) – THAT has a little vessel for a bit of water and then one squishes the butter into the bell/top part. A pita in my opinion…

    If I had seen the original, I would have said it was an onion keeper: http://www.preparedpantry.com/the-onion-keeper.aspx
    which a friend gave me years ago – and I rarely use as such. I usually use a whole onion at a time. It just hangs out in my cupboard, as does the butter bell…

    I would have never thought of keeping garlic in it.

  • Tammy
    October 28, 2008 6:20pm

    I have two of these, very similar, which I bought at the Mikasa store several years ago and they are definitely for butter.

  • October 28, 2008 10:23pm

    Ah butter dishes. They make the whole process of smearing large dollops of it onto fresh crusty bread all the more satisfying. Adds a touch of class, I say, to indulging in something so artery clogging! I recently went to a beautiful restaurant here in Sydney and think I might have shocked my friend silly with the amount of butter I applied to my warm bread roll – she said I looked like I was icing a cake! Must have been the butter dish that did it too me – it seems they have a strong effect on people :)

  • ida
    October 29, 2008 8:27am

    David, I have to tell you that my mom just sits down some mornings and peels garlic cloves so that she always has them ready to use/cook. She stores them in used plastic jars inside the refrigerator. =)

  • Carrie
    October 29, 2008 12:58pm

    I bought my dishes like that for butter, but now I use them as little votive candle holders. The lids make great snuffers.

  • Linda
    October 29, 2008 1:06pm

    Hope you like your new mac. Hope you’re over your cold (or getting there) and really really hope you will tell us all about the conference in Italy.

    About the butter dish that will not die…now I am unsure where the darn butter goes. I don’t see how it can be packed into the top. It’s too messy.

  • October 29, 2008 1:07pm

    You are right! It is a butter dish. I found it at store and labeled butter dish.

  • Stephanie
    October 29, 2008 9:43pm


    Maybe that will settle it for people.
    I am French (though this does not stamped me as highly qualified!!!) and own this type of dish.
    It is for butter to be placed by each guest usually on their right side, they are called beurrier individuelr individual butter dish , they usually come with nice porcelain dinnerware sets. Mine are in white porcelain with royal blue flower and a little bunny on top as a handle (OK way cute). I love these and they just make your whole table so much moredelicate.
    And yep, got my 72 piece porcelain dinnerware set in france and haul it back with my husband after our wedding to the US. You should have seen our luggages ( that and the smell of cheeses).

  • mrs lavendula
    October 30, 2008 7:17am

    i love reading your posts, and this one just cracked me up! i read about your previous entry saying it was a garlic keeper so when i saw your title with the picture, i suspected no less. you may be right, they might have been pulling your leg!

  • October 31, 2008 7:29am

    I have one from Crate and Barrel. It’s a butter dish. I think they are pretty.

  • November 1, 2008 8:59am

    Butter bell. I adore butter bells. I have a beautiful blue pottery one on my counter that I use all the time, and it makes me so happy when I use it.

    The best part is the butter is always soft and spreadable.

  • CarolQ
    November 2, 2008 2:09am

    Boy, talk about ‘much ado about nothing!’ For anyone wondering about gravity in using this BUTTER bell: Yes, the butter goes in the top dome and must be placed there while the butter is soft and there shouldn’t be any air-bubbles or gravity might take over. It helps to cool the butter in the refrigerator if it gets too warm in the kitchen and/or dining room before it melts down to a puddle. The water is there to keep any odors out of the notorious odor-absorbing butter. Now, can we please change the subject? Pleeeease?

  • olly70
    November 3, 2008 4:53am

    I don’t wanna make a mistake, but it’s possible that this object was made for the truffle? I think that is a good box for conserving tartufo bianco d’alba away from humidity.