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Today in My History

2001:  The Courage to Change
2002:  Falling Leaves
2003:  Catching Up on my Reading
2004:  Written in Stone
2005Stop the Presses!!!
2006:  A Flurry of Excitement
2007:   Jack's Back!
2008:  Plastics
2009:  It's a Plane...It's a bird
2010:  From the Southland
2011:  Guess Who We Saw Today
Sunday Stealing
2013: Italy

Bitter Hack
Updated: 1
Woodland Honors
Opera House Treasure
(feature story)

Books Read in 2014
"The Ocean at the End of the Lane"

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mail to Walt


16 January 2014

I was surprised to discover today that, in San Francisco, at least, the newest food thing is the least likely food you would consider becoming the "latest artisinal food craze."  It's toast.  Yep...slices of bread transformed into something with brown color on it.  Toast. Whoda thunk.

In an article in Pacific *Standard, author John Gravois discusses this puzzling new trend, in wonderful purple prose.

All the guy was doing was slicing inch-thick pieces of bread, putting them in a toaster, and spreading stuff on them. But what made me stare—blinking to attention in the middle of a workday morning as I waited in line at an unfamiliar cafeŽ—was the way he did it. He had the solemn intensity of a Ping-Pong player who keeps his game very close to the table: knees slightly bent, wrist flicking the butter knife back and forth, eyes suggesting a kind of flow state.

Clearly I have not been paying enough attention to my toast-making technique.

The aforementioned slices of toast sell for $3 a slice.   Gravois' review was positive, if succinct.  "It was pretty good. It tasted just like toast, but better."

In deeper search to uncover the reason for the new craze, Gravois did some traveling.  He visited a "toast bar" in Petaluna, across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, and a few miles up the road.  Back in San Francisco, he visited a cafe he describes as "a big light-filled cafe and bakery with exposed rafters and polished concrete floors, like a rustic Apple Store. There, between the two iPads that served as cash registers, was a small chalkboard that listed the day’s toast menu. Everywhere the offerings were more or less the same: thick slices of good bread, square-shaped, topped with things like small-batch almond butter or apricot marmalade or sea salt."

Toast.  Imagine.

I was ahead of the trend.  I've been making "toast" all of my life and never knew I was being trendy.

I'm rather picky about my toast.  We have his and hers breads around here these days.  Walt's is a hefty loaf loaded down with whole grains and seeds and I don't know what all.  You could get a hernia trying to carry a slice of it to the toaster. 

Mine is white.  That's it.  White.  Not into the multi-grain breads (because they sound entirely too healthy for my carefully maintained deplorable eating habits).  Not balloon bread, mind you.  I have some standards (I save that for tomato sandwiches). But something with a little heft to it. Right now I seem to be gravitating to Buttermilk bread, but sometime I go on a potato bread kick.  If I'm really feeling daring, I might use an English Muffin.   But not the whole wheat ones.  On special occasions, there is cinnamon bread, which is really eating dessert for breakfast, but since it's bread, I tell myself it's OK.

And I don't like it toasted dark.  I like it just barely toasted, slathered with real butter and only rarely anything else added.  Sometimes I'll have a bit of jam, but then I'm disappointed because though it sounds like a good idea, it's really too sweet for my taste buds for a breakfast food.

When Peggy was spending six weeks here, I made my "special toast" for her one morning, early in her stay -- slightly toasted, and with lots of butter.  She was indignant.  She wanted TOAST, she told me--not warm bread.

I remember when our Brasilian daughter Sonia (now an American citizen for a long time) was first living with us.  She made a lot of toast.  In fact, "make a toast" became kind of an in joke around here.  I haven't seen her in a long time, but I'll bet she'd still "make a toast" for me.

Now I understand why my having toast for breakfast has become so ritualized around here.

I get the bread out of the bread drawer and put the slices into the toaster.  Almost immediately, Polly's head pops up from where she is sleeping in the recliner and she doesn't take her eyes off of me.  Lizzie comes sauntering in from the family room and watches my every move too. Everyone waits with bated breath until the toaster pops. 

I slather the toast with butter and take it to Walt's chair in the family room, where I eat it while watching The Today Show.  By now Sheila has joined the other two and all three of them sit around my feet, watching every bite.   Some days, while watching me enjoy my toast, Sheila begins to drool and after she has moved away, I find a little puddle of saliva on the floor.

When I have eaten all the inside parts of the two slices of bread, I break the crusts into six pieces and each dog gets two.  They are very polite.   They know that Sheila gets fed first, then Lizzie and then Polly and then I repeat the gifts.  When all six crusts are gone, I hold up my hands, palms out, and say "that's it" and all three go back to wherever they were before I opened the bread drawer.

This has become such a normal ritual around here for so many years that when I am not at home and am eating toast, I still carefully eat all the soft parts inside the crust and then wonder what I'm going to do with the crust with no dogs to feed it to!  Somehow it doesn't feel right to just...eat it!

I think tomorrow when I'm eating my toast I will let the dogs know how lucky they are to be sharing the latest artisinal food craze.

I don't think they will be impressed.


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