The buttery (or butterie), locally better- known as rowie is a speciality from the Aberdeenshire area, especially from the city of Aberdeen. According the Scottish National Dictionary, the first written mention of buttery was in 1899 when an Arbroath street-seller’s breadbasket said to have butteries.
It is a unique breakfast product which has a distinctive crispy, flaky, flattened structure similar to a French croissant but with a different flavour which is more pronounced buttery and salty. Its crisp shortness is balanced with a chewy elasticity.
As part of breakfast or lunch it can be served with either sweet or savory items and can replace a bread roll served with soup.
The legend says that this product was developed to provide fishermen sailing from that port with a roll that would not go stale during a fortnight or more at sea. The secret was the abundance of fat which also provided the distinctive flavour and made the rowie doubly useful for the sea-goers in that they were a source of energy.
In 1917, the Press & Journal and Evening Express detailed the threat to the rowie as a result of the introduction of war bread and pricing controls. It was banned for a period of time despite local bakers protestations that the Rowie wasn’t “bread” as defined by the regulations. Articles noted its manufacture is an important branch of the baking trade locally particularly in working class districts, where breakfasts consist of porridge and milk, followed by tea and a buttery rowie. Both employers and employees where likely to be badly hit by the prohibition and were encouraged to make representations to the Food Controller. This is a clear indication of the traditional butteries link to local food culture and heritage.
Unfortunately there are now industrial versions of this product (made of oil of palm) which are different from the traditional rowie. Also, the production and consumption is localised in this area of Scotland.