Monday, March 7, 2011

In Praise of Toast

Now before you say, "Pssh - toast is boring", just hear me out.

This morning, surrounded by the icy leftovers of an early March snowstorm, I came to work and slipped off to the break room to get some hot water for my tea. As soon as I pushed the door open, I was enveloped in warm sunlight pouring through the windows and the scent of toasted bread - somehow unmistakeable for a bagel or an English muffin - and suddenly I'm friggin' Proust musing over his Madelines.

I have a long history with toast, mainly the Wonderbread kind, due mostly to the fact that it was the only thing I could eat - besides Ginger Ale and Saltines - when I was sick in bed as a child. You would think that this would cause toast to inspire negative thoughts (of nausea) in my mind, but instead it has achieved "comfort food" status. I am also not a big breakfast eater due to a weak stomach before noon, so tea and toast is what I usually turn to if I want something more substantial than yogurt.

In general, toast is best when served hot directly from the toaster or oven, golden brown and crunchy on the outside, hot and still slightly soft on the inside. This, to me, is the best way to ensure that the butter will melt evenly across the surface and the bread will sop up all of the jam or marmalade that you might want to pile on top (really, how delicious is butter + jam? and does anything act as a better foil to butter + jam than toast???). However, the best toast that I have ever eaten was served at the hotel where I was staying in Edinburgh, Scotland, on a weekend getaway during my semester Study Abroad. It was a heavy wheat bread, at least an inch thick, cold but perfectly toasted. They included with it a heavy little ceramic crock of pale, creamy butter that would make any stick of Land o' Lakes green with envy and, oh boy, was that the perfect breakfast to go with my fragrant cup of Earl Grey.

So you still think that toast is boring? Fine, maybe it is, but I'll take wholesome simplicity any day over sugary cereal or a giant, greasy plate of IHOP fare that will sit in your stomach like an anvil all day long.

...unless I'm hungover. Then I want McDonalds.

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