If youâ€™re a regular fair-goer, you probably know about this phenomenon. But
Iâ€™ve had so many
people give me puzzled looks when I mention it, that I think there must be
quite a few who havenâ€™t
heard of it. And Iâ€™ll bet not very many people know the origins.
Tibet. Yes, Tibet. Itâ€™s an ancient Buddhist tradition to carve yak butter for
the Tibetan New
Year. Theyâ€™re very elaborate shapes and the butter is dyed different colors to
Molding food into shapes has been a thing for a long time. It was a feature of
dinners in Babylon
and Roman Britain. They got very fancy! In 1536, the Popeâ€™s cook did nine
scenes including an
elephant with the riding chair on his back, Hercules wrestling a lion, and a
Moor on a camel.
On to modern times. A dairy maid, Caroline Shaw Brooks, created an elaborate
piece she called
Dreaming Iolanthe to help sell her butter. She redid it many times and was
invited places, like
the Centennial Exhibition in 1876, to display her butter art. She went on to
study in Paris and
sculpt in marble, but kept making butter art, too. As you can imagine, this
became a much easier
art to practice when refrigeration became the norm!*
The most common place for butter sculptures now are farm or agricultural fairs,
like the Bunyon
County Harvest Fair in FAT
OUT. And most contests are for making Butter Cows. The real Minnesota State
Fair doesnâ€™t do
Butter Cows. In fact, they commission well-known butter sculptors (there ARE
such people!) to
recreate beauty contest finalists.
Chase Oliver and her business partner cum surrogate grandmother are talked into
renting a booth at
the fair where they will sell their wildly popular dessert bars. The Bar None,
their shop, is kept
running by the new hire while theyâ€™re at the fair, but some problems crop up
with that. Also,
Quincy smuggles himself to the fair and has a go at the dessert bars before
There is a butter sculpture contest, of course. But Butter Cows and beauty
queens wonâ€™t do for
Bunyon County, a place I made up for the book. The contest there is for state
symbols, and some of
the sculptures are almost as elaborate as those of the Popeâ€™s cook. However,
one of the best of
the sculptors is found dead on the floor beside his unfinished masterpiece.
Quincy, who has
sneaked into the building, is found enjoying the butter. Whatâ€™s much worse is
that Quincyâ€™s vet,
Dr. Mike Ramos, is found with him and the body.
Chase knows that Mike didnâ€™t murder anyone! Heâ€™s suspect Number One, though, so
she keeps her ears
and eyes openâ€”and tries to keep Quincy contained.
* source (what else?): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butter_sculpture
Janet Cantrell is a pen name for Kaye George, Agatha nominated novelist and
short story writer.
She belongs to Sisters in Crime, Guppies, and Austin Mystery Writers. Her cozy
Fat Cat mystery
series debuts in September of 2014 with FAT CAT AT LARGE, featuring Quincy, a
pudgy, adorable cat
who is an accomplished escape artist. Especially when heâ€™s on a diet and
hungry. Leave it to
Quincy to lead his human, Chase, co-owner of a Minneapolis dessert bar shop,
Janet lives in Knoxville TN with her husband. Her recently departed feline,
Agamemnon, is a source
for some of Quincyâ€™s antics.
Janet Cantrell | Blog
Butterscotch tabby Quincy is back and hungrier than ever in this frisky follow-
up to FAT CAT AT
A booth at the Bunyan County Harvest Fair seems like the perfect opportunity
â€śChaseâ€ť Oliver and Anna Larson to promote their Bar None bakery business.
sized pussycat Quincy has plans for their delicious dessert bars other than
selling them to
customers. After tearing through their inventory, Quincy goes roaming the
fairgrounds in search of
But what he finds is murder. One of the top contenders in a butter-sculpting
contest has been
killed, and Chase is churning on the inside when she sees Quincyâ€™s handsome
veterinarian, Dr. Mike
Ramos, being led away by the police. With a little help from a kitty with
butter on his whiskers,
Chase needs to find the real killer and clear the doctorâ€™s good nameâ€¦
Includes recipes for people and cats!
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