Butler's Pantry Cupboards

Published: 09th November 2010
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In America it seems that restaurants and catering businesses have adopted the term "butler's pantry" and use it rather liberally to describe the name of a business. Periodically, it is used to describe a segmented portion in the kitchen of a home where there is actually not even a butler staffed. It is defined in Websters Dictionary as being: "A serving and storage room between a kitchen and dining room."

Traditionally, during Mid Evil times, rooms where irreplaceable silverware, one of a kind serving pieces and things used to prepare food in the kitchen were kept-were referred to as butler's pantries. These were not small rooms. In fact, many of the modern day kitchens we have now in America would be smaller than these storage areas were then. I you had butler's pantry cabinetry during the time when the phrase was coined, you had money.

Homeowners during that time who had one of these rooms where very well-off financially. So-much-so that they actually had a butler who would sleep in the room to protect the valuables that were stored there from being stolen. We should not get a misconception of this particular servant though just because of where he would sleep. The butler in many instances held a rather prestigious role, actually being in charge of all of the servants in the home.

As one might refer to a "pantry" in today's American culture's kitchen-cupboard-design, the once grand room of the old days, has now been reduced to a small two to three foot wide cabinet in the kitchen.

Only the wealthy in our present day understand the true meaning of the term "butler's pantry." Anyone serving in the White House would know the meaning of the term as well.

The White House Museum website has many pictures of how the butlers pantry, in the President of the United States home, has evolved through the years. The room was originally designed to protect a silver collection during Andrew Jackson's time. It was actually considered a vault. As one views images of the White House area, it becomes apparent that this style "pantry" is more than just a tall cabinet. It actually resembles a galley kitchen having two long sections of parallel cupboards with glass doors, a sink and counter tops. This particular design is in keeping with how a traditional butler's pantry should be made.

I think it would be safe to say that most people today, who have a butler's pantry, don't have someone who sleeps in there. We could also presume that if someone has a vault in the home, it would not be in such a centrally located area, but rather in a more discrete location.

By all appearances, as in times past, the term presently marks a particular prestigious level of achievement by the homeowner. It seems to separate the common "average Joe" from the wealthy upper class homeowner.

Check out this reference for butler's pantry cabinetry to get more visual ideas for tall storage cupboard arrangements.

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