DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have been given a lovely cut-glass butter dish. It is the type that holds one stick of real butter. It is an elegant piece, and I would like to use it every day, but I am somewhat at a loss of how to use it properly. I buy my butter in wrapped sticks, so should I unwrap the butter before putting it on the butter dish? Should I leave the butter wrapped, but the wrap loosened? What is proper?
GENTLE READER: Although proper etiquette has no objection to practicality or efficiency, they are not, as Miss Manners often has to point out, etiquette’s primary concern. It is, however, pleasant when they find themselves all rowing in the same general direction.
Etiquette removes the wrapper prior to putting the butter in your dish because it is more formal. Efficiency points out that this is easier on the guests. And practicality observes that guests who have to juggle both cut-glass dishes and wrappers, which tend to stick to the butter, are more likely to have an accident, shortening the life of the wrapper, the butter and the cut-glass dish.