The Corrupted Palate: In Praise of Toast
I made the trip to The Lake George Baking Company, strictly for research, you understand. (Please hold down the incredulous laughter.) A friend had brought some of their pastries on a booze cruise and I had to check them out for myself. It’s a cozy shop, filled with fabulous sights and smells, but the first thing I snatched up was a loaf of cinnamon bread.
We all went a little crazy on that loaf. The toaster was working overtime. I’m pretty sure my brother-in-law had four slices, out-toasting us all. (He said he burnt a couple, but the smoke alarm never went off. And it goes off if a bug flies too close.) It was outstanding cinnamon bread. The best part was a sugary, buttery, cinnamon coating on the outside. It crisped up beautifully.
I’m not sure which toast I liked better, that cinnamon bread or the cinnamon raisin bread that The Hometown Diner serves – homemade, soft, with deep swirls of cinnamon and raisins. They grill thick slices of it for their lucky patrons and can be persuaded to sell you a loaf or two, if they have it. I bought some to take as a hostess gift and was never made so welcome.
Cinnamon toast has always been one my favorite foods. It was my go-to snack after school as a kid and I still sneak some in on a long weekend. Once in awhile, I go crazy and spread the toast with some peanut butter first, and then sprinkle the cinnamon sugar. The peanut butter warms and gets smoother and the cinnamon and sugar add that perfect snap. I’m thinking that toast is the nearly perfect food.
I like to imagine those people who first taste some new food, either accidentally or intentionally. I believe toasted bread was accidental, some bread, fresh out of the oven, left too close to the fire and toasting up. “Hmmm, this smells wonderful, I wonder if a little butter would be good on it…”
So many things taste even better on toast. What else tastes so good with jelly or jam or marmalade? (Quiet down, you biscuits!) Egg on toast is heavenly, especially with some of that butter. The first thing my husband ate after he started taking Lipitor was toast slathered with butter. I’ve been known to have a little Fluff on toast, with a little of that peanut butter, too.
Sandwiches on toasted bread taste even better. And what is a grilled sandwich, but toasted bread, really? And bruschetta, too, while we’re on the subject. Toast. Don’t get me started, because I can even make a case that pizza is really a form of toast.
So my mother-in-law was famous for burning the toast, nearly every morning, setting off the house smoke alarm, which is ear-piercingly industrial-strength. Her sons declared that she finally found an alarm that even they could not ignore after a crazy Saturday night in town. She’d burn the toast, set off the alarm, and they’d all straggle down. “Did I wake you?”, she’d say, and then feed them some unburnt toast.