Why do we love toast?
Although toast has a reputation of being the most basic of ingredients, it isn't a stranger to sophistication
Even the word is cosy. It isn’t just a comforting slice of grilled bread, it’s also a drink to your health, a state of celebration among your peers and a perfect balance of warmth that’s neither too hot or too sweaty. It’s why when a mail-order company that sold cuddly, down-to-earth clothing and home wares was casting around for a name that conjured up home, security, unpretentiousness and Britishness, they chose the most apt word: Toast.
But do we love toast because we love it, or do we love it because we’re taught to love it? Researchers at Cardiff University (where they doubtless eat a truckload of toast) found that toast is a smell that we almost all of us associate with childhood, as it is often one of the first solid foods we’re given (crusts off, smeared with butter... mmm). Professor Tim Jacobs, who seems to be the chief toast fanatic at Cardiff, is an expert on the way that people perceive taste and smell and found that the more you love toast, the more likely it is that you ate a lot of it as a child.
Add to that the convenience of the humble slice, (it’s a comforting snack from frozen in 3 minutes – or an entire meal if you add beans), and the cheapness and you’ve got a foodstuff that takes us from toddler-hood, through our student years and finally to parenthood when we stuff our children with it and start the cycle all over again.
Although toast has a reputation of being the most basic of ingredients, it isn’t a stranger to sophistication. Take a fat, bouncy slice and slather it with mushrooms, like our guest chef Henry Dimbleby, or a slender shard of sourdough and dollop on chicken liver parfait, add a white linen napkin, and you’ve got a starter fit for J Sheekey.
And if that all sounds too serious, a company in Vermont has made a series of toasters that will burn all sorts of images into your morning slice: the face of Jesus, a peace sign or a hemp leaf. At the moment, Burnt Impressions LLC, the manufacturers of the toasters, will only ship to North America. But it’s surely only a matter of time. Until then, have a laugh at these other, “creative” toasters perhaps while contemplating strawberry jam on white.
Also worth your attention:
Things on Toast: Meals from the grill - the best thing since sliced bread
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