Oh, look! Toast!

Toast is a magical food for me.

I walk into the kitchen thinking “hmmm… I’m hungry.” A quick scan of instant comestibles reveals little — our budgets are a little tighter than they used to be. Then I see the loaf of bread. Toast is a favorite of mine, so I drop a slice of bread into the toaster, depress the plunger, and turn back toward the rest of the kitchen.

At this point my expectations are heightened. My stomach KNOWS that my brain has made a meal decision, and anticipatorially begins doing those stomachy things it does to get ready for food — even if that food is just going to be a snack. Meanwhile, my brain gets those stomachy signals and thinks “hmm… somebody thinks it’s mealtime. We need REAL food.”

So I begin digging through cupboards again. Fast-food options are few and far between, and the pressing signals from my belly only serve to increase the sense of urgency. I root around, search, scour, and then see the loaf of bread. At this point I’ve forgotten about putting the toast in, so I head over to the bread loaf, and right about the time I’m picking it up, POP! It’s TOAST!

“Oh, look! TOAST!”

It’s magical.

The frightening thing is that this happens almost DAILY to me. Even knowing I do it, it still happens. Just this evening I depressed the plunger, scraped a plate of leftover pork-and-beans into my cake-hole, and as I was thinking “gee… this needs a second course. Something light, like maybe–” POP!

“Oh, look! TOAST!” Right there when I need it.

I expect toast will only become more magical as I grow older and this attention-deficit absent-mindedness morphs into full-blown senility. Then again, I may end up starving to death standing next to the magical toaster because I’ve forgotten that bread and depress-the-plunger are required spell components.


72 thoughts on “Oh, look! Toast!”

      1. I’ve had cinnamon toast. I don’t usually want the sugar, so I just do buttered toast. But if there happens to be raisin bread in the house all bets are off. I may end up making cinnamon raisin french toast.

  1. The next step in enlightenment, grasshopper, is to put the beans ON the toast. 🙂 Beans on toast is a great English staple, wot? 🙂

    (Butter the toast first. For extra decadence, shred a little cheese over the top of, or even into, the beans.)

      1. Eh. Beans on toast is okay. But the “cajun blackened chicken” the Marriott served me was criminal indeed. It should have been labled “boiled breast of chicken rolled in basil, and you can put brown sauce on it if you want,” because that’s what showed up.


        1. Cajun food is generally good, in my opinion, but I wouldn’t put it past the Marriott to fuck it up. I guess the presence of basil on your plate and the lack of actual blackened goodness is testament to that.

          1. I guess the operative question is… where was the Marriott and did the staff have any right to claim authenticity in serving southern delicacies? I’d wager the answers would be “Nowhere near Na’wlins.” and “I doubt it.”.

            Not that location is that essential in any specialty food preparation. I mean, cooks can move anywhere. For instance, the best Sushi I’ve ever had was at a buffet in a mall in Shaumburg Illinois… not exactly where you’d expect to find awesome Sushi. Still, I’ve found that good Cajun food tends to keep itself regional.

      2. Actually, the problem with most stereotypes of English food is that the stereotypes are drawn from people who don’t know how to cook it. British food, remember, includes — for example — beef Wellington, roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, kippers, finnan haddie, Stilton and a whole variety of regional cheeses any one of which can put any domestic cheese sold in most US supermarkets to shame …. And of course the great British take-out, fish’n’chips!

        Oh yeah, and nobody on this side of the Atlantic appears to know how to make proper cider, either. 😉

        (We won’t talk about English beer. Can’t stand the foul stuff.)

        1. So right!

          I can second that. English Food is MUCH better than most people like to admit. And this comes from a German guy! I have been to the UK a couple of times and I always enjoyed the food. Maybe it’s just because I DO like unusual combinations of food, but perhaps it’s just plain TASTY 😉

          And for the beer: You DO get good Irish Guinness over there, so don’t complain! You won’t find anyhting better than that. 🙂


        2. Yorkshire pudding…. … My grandmother used to make that from time to time, and I never learned how, much to my regret. But her Yorkshire pudding was so good that even the memory sustains me. ; )

          And yeah… there’s all that cheese!

          I’m unaware of any truly good cheese that is American in origin. The cheese referred to as “American cheese” shouldn’t, in my mind, even rightly be called cheese. It’s that stuff that comes in little square slices and might not even be made from milk, that gets cheaply slapped on a sandwich. Not that I don’t _like_ it for what it is and eat it mind you… but to me… it’s _not_ cheese. Cheddar is cheese. Stilton is cheese. Feta is cheese. Ricotta is even cheese. But “American Cheese” is actually made of, apparently, plastic. Or possibly it’s a derivative of crude oil. Hard to say. ; )


          1. Well, to be fair, about the only two types of cheese that I can think of that can truly be said to be American in origin are colby and jack. And, while I don’t have a lot of use for colby, a good Sonoma jack can be very good.
            Unfortunately, you’ll virtually never see the good stuff in a supermarket. The stuff the supermarkets sell gets cut and wrapped practically as soon as it’s set, and they can get away with it because 98% of the shoppers don’t know any better. You see Kraft cheese on the shelf labelled, apparently with a perfectly straight face, “Aged 60 days.”
            60 days?!? This by Kraft is “aged“? It’s practically still raw! If it was meat, it’d still be twitching! I’ve given up on buying any domestically-made “Swiss” cheese because the stuff’s invariably foul — usually pasty, mealy and acidic, with no real distinctive flavor to speak of except “uncured cheese”.

            I suspect a lot of American-made cheese would be immensely improved by aging it at least 18 months before cutting and selling it. Unfortunately, there probably isn’t enough profit to be made in doing so to make it worthwhile for big agribusiness, when they can put barely-set crap or even “processed cheese food product” on the supermarket shelf and people will still buy it. There’s some very respectable aged Cheddar made here and there, but you mostly only find it in specialty cheese shops. (About the only counter-example I can think of is the Tillamook Extra Sharp, which is still very young, but not bad at all for all that.)

            As for Yorkshire pudding, it’s pretty easy to make. I can give you a recipe if you want.

            (I should actually finish reformattiog my cookbook, then put it on the Web for download at $smallint per download.)

          2. Here you go:

            Yorkshire Pudding (According to The Joy of Cooking)
            6 servings

            It was customary to cook this old and delicious dish in the pan with the roast or under it, letting the drippings fall upon it. As many of us now cook roast beef in a slow oven and no longer have extravagant drippings, we must revise the preparation of Yorkshire pudding. It is best to cook it separately in the hot oven required to puff it up and brown it quickly. Serve it from the dish in which it was cooked, cut into squares. In Yorkshire, it is served before the meat course as a hefty pudding. We always substitute the pudding for the usual starch served with a main course.

            Sift into a bowl:
            1 1/2 cups flour
            1/2 teaspoon salt

            Make a well in the centre, into which pour:
            2 cups milk

            Stir in the milk. Beat until fluffy and add:
            2 eggs

            Beat the batter well until large bubbles rise to the surface. Let this stand covered and refigerated at least 1 hours and then beat it again.

            Preheat oven to 400 F.

            Have ready a hot ovenproof dish about 9 x 13 inches containing about 1/4 cup hot beef drippings or melted butter. Pour in the batter. It should be about 1/2 inch high. Bake the pudding about 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 F, and bake for 10-15 minutes longer. Serve at once.

          3. Obviously you’ve never been out east, my friend… in the Buffalo, NY area we have this chain of stores called Wegmans which sells a VARIETY of domestic cheeses that would make your spine tingle. Especially – get this – colby jack cheese. It’s great with ham. ^_~

            Popo out.

          4. Cheese in America

            I’ve got a book on cheese, written by America’s first certified cheese-taster (the Euros are pretty picky, apparently). It does tout European cheese, but there are some very, very fine cheeses to be had in the US. The principal lack here is YOUNG cheeses, not aged ones.

            See, in the US we require all non-cured dairy to be pasteurized. You can’t get good brie here, for instance, because pasteurization ruins the flavor, and you can’t IMPORT good brie because it has to be pasteurized.

            Older cheeses, however, you can get JUST FINE. Once they’ve aged beyond a certain point (I forget what it is — it might be six months, though) the FDA or USDA or whoever it is doesn’t require it to have started with pasteurized milk.

            I’m too tired to go get the book and quote chapter and verse to you. Suffice it to say that once I knew what was in those pages, I figured out how to get all my cheese needs met just fine without leaving the US.


          5. Notice I said “you’ll virtually never see the good stuff in a supermarket.” I don’t think that one regional supermarket chain invalidates this statement. 🙂

            Yeah, you can buy colby jack around here, too. In 8oz and 16oz plastic packages, from Kraft or your store brand of choice. It’s the same bland, pasty, un-aged crud as anything else on the shelf. If Wegmans actually sells the stuff decently aged, count your blessings.

            (And trust me, after Wensleydale, Shropshire Blue, Red Leicester, Double Gloucester, Stilton, Emmenthal, Gruyére, Jarlsberg, and a significant number of other cheeses I could name, any competitor has a long way to go to make my spine tingle.)

          6. I use it to top my green lasagna. It’s pretty good. The port wine Derby is pretty neat too. I like that in biscuits. (I’m Southern so that means something vaguely scone-like.)

            They aren’t really good eating cheeses though.

          7. There’s a university in Washington State named, coincidentally, Washington State University. (Not to be confused with the University of Washington, or Washington University, both of which are completely unrelated.) It’s basically a farm university. One of the things they do is make cheese, and ship it cross-country. It’s aged a year by the time they ship it, and, since it’s still tinned, they point out that you can age it pretty much as long as you want.

            I have a tin. It’s been aged an extra two months. I don’t think it’ll last much longer though, I’m starting to really feel in the mood for cheese.

            It taunts me.

    1. If I’d remembered there was toast coming I would have done just that. I’ve been to England, I’ve HAD beans on toast. At breakfast, in a Marriott hotel in Manchester.


    2. for a truly strange taste treat, complete your toast as desired (personally, I like a lot of butter) then add vegemite, then add a nice sharp cheese. Melting for a few seconds in the microwave gives you something surprisingly good. I was horrified the first time an ex-girlfriend of mine abused my good 6-year-old cheddar this way, but it really will wake your taste buds up!

          1. Marmite does indeed go nicely under cheese. Another alternative (that I like) when toasting cheese is to apply a light sprinkling of Worcestershire Sauce before adding the cheese: Have you ever tried that?

          2. Uh, actually, no, I haven’t tried that variation.

            Taking a sudden left turn at Albuquerque: Ever tried sprinkling chane ka masala on chips/french-fries?

          3. No, and in fact I’m not quite sure what ‘chane ka masala’ actually is? If it’s something curryish, as I suspect, then the ‘curry & chips’ that was sometimes included in my school dinners has probably spoilt the concept for me… 😉

  2. Every time I set out to make toast, it ends badly. In most cases, with me pounding on the upside-down toaster yelling “No! Bad! Drop it! Drop it, I said!”

    My toaster is selfish; it wants to keep the food for itself.

  3. Question: did the infusion of toasters into the stuff that the late Scrapyard of Insufferable Arrogance used to crank out have anything to do with this, or was it the other way around? 🙂

  4. Y’know… having “Oh, look! Toast!” as the headline of your open letter when Schlock is being blown to pieces/burnt to a crisp/reduced to a baby blob… seems rather cruel.

    I bet you planned it that way.

  5. Not senility

    I wonder if you’ve ever seen someone crouched over an overgrown calculator (otherwise known as a Personal Digital Assistant) trying to remind their future self of something before they’re distracted and forget what the heck they were doing.

    Especially when they’re supposed to be driving.

    1. Re: Not senility

      Heh, I have that problem all the time. Even when I’m crouched in front of an overgrown calculator (otherwise known as a Personal Computer) and I’m trying to remember what I was doing BEFORE I clicked on the shiny… Oh, look! Toast!

      * runs across the kitchen.

  6. Howard, meet Heywood…

    “Toast!”, by Heywood Banks
    All around the country and coast to coast
    People always say “what do you like most?”
    I don’t wanna brag, I don’t wanna boast
    I always tell’em I like toast
    Yeah toast!
    Yeah toast!
    I get up in the morning about 6 AM
    Have a little jelly, have a little jam
    Take a piece of bread put it in the slot
    Push down the lever and the wires get hot
    I get toast
    Yeah toast!
    Ahhhhahh toast!
    Now there’s no secret to toasting perfection
    There’s a dial on the side and you make your selection
    You push to the dark or the light and then
    If it pops up too soon, press down again
    Make toast
    Yeah toast!
    When the first caveman drove in from the dregs
    He didnt know what would go with the bacon and the eggs
    Must of been a genius got it in his head
    Plug the toaster in the wall and bought a bag of bread..
    And make toast
    Yeah toast!
    Ugh hmmmmmmm
    Oh oui oui, monseiur, bon jour croquette
    Uh huh croissant chevy covertte
    Maurice chevalier eiffel tower
    Oh oui marie baguettue bon soir
    French toast!
    French toast!
    In or where the heck i am right now
    Yeah toast!
    Yea hey he hmmm….

  7. Hee hee! I have severe attention and memory problems, due to a brain injury, and I know what it’s like to put toast in, forget I’ve done so, and then get a magic “surprise” when the toast pops up. And to me… somehow toast itself, from a modern toaster is still pretty damn cool.

    Anyone ever made toast the _old_ way? It’s a pain! Trust me! But now getting fairly perfect toasted bread is pretty much point and click. I’m still savoring toast as a modern convenience… toilet paper is the bomb too… don’t try civilization without it… it’s icky.

    When I was a kid, I was often told, when I complained about some limitation of being a child, that I should consider myself lucky, that being a child was much more fun than being a grownup. I’m sorry… I disagree.

    As a grownup… I can put _as much_ peanut butter on my !@#$!#$ sandwich as I want! And I like lots! As a kid, I always got the “do you know how expensive peanut butter is… blah blah”. And of course as a grownup I’ve discovered that peanut butter _isn’t_ expensive. It’s exactly the right cost for me to enjoy exactly how much I like… which is to say, I want my mouth to stick together until I wash it down with a _giant_ glass of cold milk… that _I_ bought, so I can enjoy the heck out of _it_ too!

    I _love_ toast. And peanut butter.

    And it may be a silly thing… but I like to find pleasure in as much of what life has to offer as I can. I am _surrounded_ by little, wonderful things, that I can choose to appreciate. Like the toaster. : ) Or peanut butter. Or that noise rain makes on the window when I’m trying to sleep.

    When I enjoy something as simple as toast, it’s not because I’m settling for gaining pleasure from something dumb because I can’t find something better. It’s not because I’m too foolish to know what’s good. It’s because… well… toast is cool… and toasters that with the push of a button, turn ready-sliced bread (another cool thing!) into toast that’s just how I like it on both sides… sometimes… little stuff is just cool.

    If someone picks on me for thinking that toast is cool, or that e-mail is amazing, or something else that people take for granted makes me happy… all I can think is… what? You don’t _like_ toast? You don’t think it’s _cool_ that you can send a detailed letter in an instant to a friend on the other side of the planet? What’s the matter with _you_?!? : )

    And of course, since my memory is bad, there’s a lot of things that, every time I do them, it’s _very_ much like the first time!


  8. That post made my evening. Thank you.
    I re-read it this morning, and have a smile on my face again. It’s yet another meaning of toast for me. A friend of mine uses it to describe the phase at a begining of a relationship where things are wonderful:
    “You like toast? I like toast! We’re PERFECT together!”

    Hopefully by the time you’re senile, automatic toasters will have been invented. Something with a sensor in your stomach that get’s it ready as you get hungry.

  9. Toast

    “Cracking toast, Grommit!” — Wallace

    You’re in very good company with love of toast. I recall that Garrison Keillor’s Lake Woebegon had a town celebration called “Toast and Jelly Days.” Good simple things honored publicly!

    Count my vote for toast with peanut butter (with cinnamon sugar a close second) if we’re talking augmented toast. Just plain toasted bread is great if it’s good bread to start with.


  10. I generally like using toaster ovens myself because the types of bread I usually toast are a bit on the large size for a conventional toaster. You do lose the magical surprise of the toast popping up, but I’d like to think this is mitigated by being able to watch the warm, orange glow of the heating elements. It’s like putting your bread into the depths of hell, yet it somehow comes out crispy and delicious. In my mind, nothing beats a good piece of toasted sourdough bread with a bit of butter and a good layer of boysenberry jam. Oi…makes my mouth water just to think of it.

  11. Toast

    On the other hand, making toast in a grill rather than a pop-up toaster lest one make toasted cheese…

    Have you read any of the novels by a British author named Jasper Fforde? These (‘The Eyre Affair’, ‘Lost In A Good Book’, ‘The Well Of Lost Plots’ and ‘Something Rotten’) are set in an alternative & sometimes distinctly weird version of Earth where one of the most important organisations in England is the ‘Toast Marketing Board’… 😉

  12. Keep your toast!

    Fine for you to say, but what about the rest of us who cannot eat wheat? Huh? Do you ever… Oh sorry, got a little carried away 🙂

    I can’t eat toast any more 🙁


    1. Re: Keep your toast!

      I know how you feel. Try ‘toasting’ corn tortillas in a dry skillet. They’re good with jelly for breakfast.

  13. There was a “Calvin and Hobbes” where Calvin demonstrates to Hobbes how the bread goes into the toaster, the button gets pushed, and toast pops out.
    “Weird. Where does the bread go?” is the tiger’s question.

  14. Howard, I think you must share a brain with . I could imagine her writing this entry just about word for word. Many are the times she has raved about the wonders of honey toast, hoping someone will make toast for her, and it will magically appear.

    Saw Pete a couple weeks ago, and made the mistake of mentioning that buffer of comics you’ve written ahead of time… I kept my mouth shut and didn’t mention that I’m reading schlock more often than sluggy these days. Pete’s a friend (a bitter, pouting friend, I should probably fix him some toast the next time I see him to make him feel better) and sluggy is truly great, but you should be proud, I’m enjoying the heck out of schlock.

    1. Re: Pete

      Pete may still be miffed at me for the railing I did about his buffer-less-ness in here a while back.

      I’ve been meaning to say how wonderful Sluggy updates have been of late, with multiple rows of Sluggy goodness… and then we got a filler yesterday, and I got bitter again. What can I say? I’m a fickle fan. I’d rather have one row a day every day than large doses every other day.

      If toast is all it takes, well, let’s all send Pete some toast. I love Sluggy.


      1. It doesn’t help when I rub it in, I really shouldn’t.

        Yes, I was bitter about the filler too when I sent this, then went and looked today and we got 4 lines. He’s all about having the right artistic look and story flow… which works fine for me as long as you don’t read it every day. I’m not sure Pete would understand that it meant we love him if we gave him toast. Perhaps beer, or (singing) rum, rum, rum, rum….

        I sent Rennie your post and she responded “ooh, you’re right… now I wish I had some toast, but I’m at work”!

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