I was about to write that toast is not something I think too deeply about, but I realised that while I might not think deeply I am fussy about my toast. But then, aren’t we all? For something so basic, don’t we all have rigid preferences?
For me, the bread must be substantial. If I’ve been to a fancy bakery on the weekend I may have a solid sourdough or a chewy ciabatti, cut as thick as will fit in the toaster slots. But usually I enjoy a pre-sliced loaf from the supermarket, dense with grains and pumpkin seeds that I love to nibble on once toasted. With all its tasty bits and pieces, each nubbly slice holds its ‘architecture’ under any topping – it doesn’t collapse into a thin shadow of itself.
There is nothing worse, in my book, than cold toast. As soon as it pops up it must be slathered with butter – well, a half canola–half butter spread thingy; margarine has never darkened my (fridge) door but butter is too hard to spread without tearing the toast (and I would never have the foresight to leave it out to soften; not that it would this morning when there was snow on the mountain). It requires quick work so the butter melts immediately and pleasingly — is there not a more comforting sight than the pale yellow stuff softening and disappearing into the toast’s surface?
Not according to my dad, who toasts his white bread then goes for his morning walk or potters in the greenhouse for a bit before coming back to butter a cold and dry slice. The butter just sits there. I will never get used to that, even though I have seen him do it for years.
The great issue then is what to put on the toast. How fancy do you go? I can be happy with the dairy spread, or a thin scrape of salty vegemite; I find vegemite especially comforting if you’re a bit under the weather or miserable — something about its robust saltiness bolsters the spirit. I have a strict regime of peanut butter and banana slices on toast as my pre-yoga energy boost; the protein and carb combo fuels me through a couple of hours of trikonasana and downward dog. And Sunday night suppers are eggs on toast; something of a family tradition (though actually, I can have egg on toast any night of the week). Oh, and let's not forget the summer joy of a thick slice of a juicy black krim tomato (homegrown, of course).
But there has to be sweet stuff with toast: honey (and maybe some banana) or homemade berry jam (and maybe a blob of natural yoghurt; I fear I am addicted to the stuff). Currently I have mum’s zingy lemon marmalade and lemon butter, as yellow as sunshine. I must admit though, the toast is merely to stop me from feeling guilty if I just ate the marmalade straight from the jar.
I have not even covered the degree of toastiness that is acceptable. Barely golden or darkly scorched? Where do you sit on the spectrum, and what are your (deep) thoughts on toast?