• Campbell Whitman

Where Butter and Olive Oil Meet

In France there is an unseen but well-known line that separates two important parts of the country regarding how they believe food should be cooked and who reigns king, butter, or olive oil.

It’s crossing point, around the city of Lyon and everything to the north is full of dedicated butter users for the richness of flavor it brings to their cuisine, while mostly everything south remains the Land of Olive, ripe with passionate supporters of the tiny fruit whose oil gives them life. A little lesser-known fact is that in the southwest of the country there are still many conservatives who believe duck fat is king and subsequently refuse to give up the rich stuff, but this conversation has mainly been waged for years between butter and olive oil. So, if asked, what are you? Team butter or team olive oil?


I find an interesting significance in its line being drawn around Lyon, which also happens to be the food capital of France itself. In and around Lyon, with all the necessary microclimates for food development, one has been able to grow or raise almost any kind of product, enabling it to feed its community exceptionally well for centuries. And with this "luck," both butter and olive oil have been grown & produced and subsequently used together since they were both a part of the agricultural community. And yet, for centuries, no wars have been fought in the name of butter, no death has been reported because of outrage from the side of olive oil, and still on this invisible line the two fats manage to not only get along, but also share the spotlight while sizzling away in their hot frying pans in the country’s most famous food city.


Shouldn’t we all take a moment to really applaud this way of thinking? What a wonderful concept of thriving together even though they are both in abundance and a cooking fat. Butter is different than oil, and you are different than me. Now, I know butter and olive oil do not have emotions or feelings, but regardless, I dare to ask, if they can get along amongst the heat of a hot frying pan, why can’t we?