Back in The Olden Days when I was teaching, I often inspired gales of laughter, sneers of disdain, and hoots of disbelief when I identified Toast as being among my favourite foods. Especially memorable was the response of a certain Senior Football Player who leaned back in his ridiculously small chair, folded his arms across his chest, fixed me with an extraordinarily disappointed look, and shook his head. "Now that," he said, "is messed up."
At that time and with that audience, there was no credible defense to be made. None. That was a lasagna, steak, pizza, and crab legs crowd, with maybe a few lobster or barbecued ribs tossed in. Toast? Toast and I took our ball (butter?) and went home.
But since I've been down with this egregious cold, I've renewed my love affair with Toast, and really, isn't Toast simply Lovely? Isn't it just The Best? Honestly, how can you go wrong with Toast? I mean, yes, you absolutely can Go Wrong if you burn it (although I did have a colleague, Fran, who purposefully burned two pieces of wheat toast every single morning in the lounge at The Rock for breakfast, its acrid stench scenting the hall for an entire period because she liked it that way), but beyond that, my goodness! Toast!
My personal favourite for all time has to be a very dark pumpernickel rye toast spread with plenty of Real Butter, lightly toasted so that it still has some of that characteristic chew. If you can slice it yourself, how glorious! Thick--thick as you can without having to use a dangerous butter knife in the toaster slot to free it. (We've all done it at some point in our lives and felt that burr of electric shock. Admit it.)
How comforting is a warm slice of cinnamon toast? That's what I have been nibbling on the past few days. Wheat bread, darkly toasted, buttered, then sprinkled all over with a mix of sugar and homey-smelling cinnamon. I don't drink hot tea, but a mug of hot water with honey and lemon accompanies it just fine.
Apparently, a restaurant in San Francisco has an entire menu devoted to Toast. The average price is about $3.50 for one piece, but they use a thick slice of organic, in-house baked bread and local ingredients for the spreads. (One famous food blogger and cookbook author went there and raved about it.) I thought about it for a little bit: would I pay $3.50 for a big piece of Toast topped with, say, cream cheese and black pepper? Yes. But, looking further at the Menu, I would not pay $16.50 for a 12-ounce cup of coffee to accompany it. And that is the cheapest.
But I don't need Fancy Toast, do you? Decent bread, good butter, pleasantly warm and all with the right balance of crisp and tender. Some people, when there is nothing else to eat, or it is too late to cook, they eat cereal. I eat Toast. In that case, Toast with butter and peanut butter. Perhaps, if I'm really hungry, I'll skip the butter and lay on a slice of cheese instead.
Oh, Toast! You're so versatile and so wonderful. So underrated and unappreciated. I will dedicate my eventual Recovery to you.