The art of toast: a memoir
We recently made a switch at my apartment, a big switch. We went from conventional pop-up toaster to toaster oven. Now the toast comes out hot through and through. Hot and dry.
The shit pops out hot as a cracker and dry as a mother. All the more ready to butter, I know, but my fingertips are now calloused from all this handling of hot food product.
The old toaster was a typically temperamental Fred Meyer Everyday (inexpensive) Living product. Sometimes it would burn the toast, other times it would pop it out limp and undone. No worries now – everything comes out crisp and tasty to perfection, if not a bit too dry, when the oven lets out its steady, little beep, beep.
My history with toast goes back years. My first and perhaps fondest memories are of perfectly toasted white in an elderly relative’s kitchen. It was a light golden brown, with butter coverage from enriched crust to enriched crust. The salty sweetness sat on my tongue like a sponge, mingling with my saliva until I began my nimble, amiable process of chewing what I truly believed to be a good friend.
Later my favorite became cinnamon swirl toast. This I will always equate with the kitchen of my grandparent’s split-level duplex. I will always remember that perfect blend of cinnamon and sugar in my mouth as I looked into the woods out in back of their subdivision.
That brings me to the old-fashioned, homemade cinnamon toast: buttered toast sprinkled with a cinnamon/sugar mixture. The trick was to get the right ratio of sugar to cinnamon – or cinnamon to sugar, I’m not sure which it is. Too much cinnamon and the mixture was powder-dry and pungent in my mouth, while too much sugar left me crunching the sandy white stuff into my molars where it dissolved into the enamel.
Peanut butter on whole wheat bread was my departed grandfather’s favorite. The challenge there was to get enough peanut butter to lend some weight to the snack, but not so much as to render my mouth little more than a manually-driven cement mixer.
Suffice it to say, I love toast. Here are two toast truisms: Marmelade is underrated, and raspberry seeds get stuck in your teeth
About seven years ago a friend and I were on a crazy sourdough toast binge. We would buy these awesome extra-sour round loaves and hang out in the kitchen all day smoking tough and taking turns popping bread into the oven, left ajar and set to “broil.” (We were, sadly, sans toaster.)
However, the greatest legacy of this era was that of the wondrous “toaststick.” No more than a simple stick of butter, the toaststick was our designated, utensil-free method of buttering toast; cradling one end of the butter stick in you palm, simply unwrap the exposed end, pick up the toast with your free hand, and rub. The butter easily and without protest allowed itself to be slathered directly onto the hot piece of freshly-toasted bread. Those were the days. Next week:Coffee!