Butter boards trend

Butter Boards Are So Hot Right Now, but Will China Buy Into the Trend?

Although food trends tend to trickle from one part of the world to another, the butter board might not spread to China so soon...

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Sammi Sowerby RADII Tatler
6:19 PM HKT, Wed October 26, 2022 2 mins read

A slick invention, the butter board should be self-explanatory for those familiar with the concept of a charcuterie board, but if you can’t wrap your head around it (we couldn’t initially), we wouldn’t blame you. Stay with us.

While assembling a charcuterie board involves curating a selection of cold cuts, cheeses, fruit, nuts, and confiture, putting together a picture-perfect butter board requires fewer ingredients — just softened butter and garnishes like fruit, herbs, edible flowers, sea salt or honey — and a steady hand.

Easy enough for a child to plate (as it’s mostly slathering and scattering) but elegant enough to serve at a dinner party, butter boards are becoming the new prelude to a meal (move over, bread baskets), at least on TikTok, where the concept first took off.

On September 16, food influencer Justine Doiron took to TikTok and Instagram to share a tutorial on how to build a butter board. In the video, she credits chef Joshua McFadden with sharing the recipe in his 2017 cookbook, Six Seasons: A New Way With Vegetables.

The moment every content creator dreams of, Doiron’s post outperformed most of her other content within days and has 8.6 million views on TikTok and 200,000 views on Instagram — not to mention countless comments and inquiries — at the time of writing.

“I was not expecting this to blow up but YOU CAN USE A KNIFE JUST LIKE A CHEESEBOARD CALM YOURSELVES Ok ily,” reads a pinned comment by Doiron beneath the TikTok post where it all began.

Today, ‘butter boards’ and ‘butter board’ respectively have 344,000,000 and 283,000,000 results on Google Search. The newfangled dish, which only gained popularity in the West about a month ago, even has its own Wikipedia page now.

Butter board Xiaohongshu

A butter board tutorial by Xiaohongshu user Lili5有棵树. Screenshots via Xiaohongshu

But what about in China, where countless citizens struggle between triggering their lactose intolerance and caving into their love of dairy products, especially in the form of boba and milk tea?

Content revolving around butter boards is scarce on Chinese social media, for now, and most existing explainers are limited to Xiaohongshu, a Chinese social media platform that straddles the fence between Instagram and Pinterest. Even these posts seem to come from Chinese foodies based abroad, such as Lili5有棵树, a culinary student enrolled at the prestigious Ferrandi Paris in France.

butter boards xiaohongshu

M.Ciel’s culinary credentials make him a qualified reviewer of patisserie and viennoiserie. Screenshots via Xiaohongshu

Shanghai-based food influencer and pastry instructor M.Ciel (whose alma mater is Ferrandi Paris, coincidentally) is more than familiar with butter as a medium and told RADII that on his food adventures around the city, he has yet to see any butter boards. He puts this down to its newness.

“It’s a very new trend. Butter boards can be salty or sweet. The fruit on it has a very important role, in my opinion, as they have to be appetizing and nicely presented,” mused the 35-year-old.

Another familiar name in Shanghai’s food industry, restaurateur Vanessa Miao had only seen butter boards on Pinterest prior to us reaching out.

“Actually, it looks nice,” said Miao after perusing some provided links, though she won’t be introducing it at her bakery and natural wine bar Dosage anytime soon. “The thing is that due to (Covid-19) restrictions, we are selling much less wine now, and (butter boards) would be a good pairing with wine. I would do it more for my own enjoyment.”

Miao also believes that young Chinese consumers are generally more “calorie-conscious,” which may mean that butter boards, which are in no way a diet food, might not take off in China. Dieticians and food safety experts have already warned that moderation is key when indulging in butter boards.

In RADII’s office, two staff members voiced another concern about the butter board: “Isn’t it hard to clean up?” they wondered aloud.

A Forbes article dated October 13 justifies their hesitancy. Smearing butter all over a wooden board is a recipe for illness, as “(cracks) tend to be dark and dank, providing good conditions for nasty microbes to grow,” wrote senior contributor Bruce Y. Lee.

The bottom line is, although food trends tend to trickle from one part of the world to another, the butter board might not spread to China so soon. If it does, however, we hope to see creative ways of localizing the trend.

For instance, comedian and content creator @knownotriously (see above) is replacing butter with rice on her board. And has anyone considered using yak butter, a household staple in much of Southwest China?

Cover image via Xiaohongshu

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