this is a post about toast. toast and friendship, really. friendship and comfort and care, to be exact.
i’ve always been a toast girl (when it comes to carbs, it has nothing to do with pasta, for me, and everything to do with the bread – and, yes, ok, french fries. so french fries and french bread and we are all good). my early memories of toast entail my young and beautiful mother ever so carefully concocting a magic mixture of cinnamon and sugar and sprinkling it, like fairy dust, out of a tiny glass teddy bear onto warm buttered toast. i think the taste of love and care was always stronger than the sweet cinnamon and sugar. while making toast is a small task, i always felt cinnamon toast on a school day to be a grand gesture. to this day, my, still gorgeous, mom turned grandma makes the same cinnamon sugar toast every tuesday for my littles. i think nigel slater said it best when he said, “it is impossible not to love someone who makes toast for you.”
my other young memory of toast is with my grandma hilda. i can’t quite pinpoint exacts, but i know she always made toast and cheese. not grilled cheese. not toasted cheese. toast and cheese. a piece of toast in the toaster, spread with butter and than topped with slices of cheddar cheese. when i am at my worst and feeling in a very bad way, the only thing i ever want to eat is toast and cheese with a cup of tea. i think the ritual of making toast and cheese, along with the aromatic memory, comforts and sustains me more than the food itself. many a days, over the past few years, i’ve only been able to manage toast and cheese and tea. it wasn’t just food for the stomach, it was food for the heart. toast toasting and my grandmas wise words, suddenly, dancing around in my head. with each bite, i chewed on a bit of wisdom. warm substance for my soul all from a piece of toast. the last time i was at my grandma’s house, she made me a piece of raisin toast with cheese. i had forgotten about that combination. but now, whenever i make my cheese toast with cinnamon raisin bread, i’ll be instantly transported to my grandma’s kitchen in colorado. standing there with my sister, eyes darting back and forth between the beauty of the majestic un-moveable mountains to the beauty of a 5’1″ warrior of woman who’s story and strength are just as un-moveable and majestic to me.
today, i had toast, virtually, with one of my best friends who lives in cape town. christina is far in distance but close in heart. we chat every couple of days via voxer (probably my favorite app) leaving each other insanely long 11 minute messages. somedays we pour out our hearts and some days we talk about tv and toast. for real. toast. i virtually had toast and coffee with christina this morning . which inspired this toast post. our last couple of messages we talked about things that were heavy on our hearts and a little overwhelming. and then, without any big transition, we moved on to white bread. i was hovered over my toaster, listening to a voxer message and buttering my bread when i realized that christina at the very moment was talking toast, of the white wonder bread variety. and, almost instantly there was that overwhelming aroma of comfort permeating my kitchen. right there where i stood alone, i felt community. so i took my toast (sprouted bread, with butter, almond butter, bananas and honey), snapped a photo for christina, hit the voxer button and explained that i was having toast with her and she would have to excuse the eating while talking (i hated to chew and talk – because that same grandma referenced above has the manners of the queen and she instilled them into me every time i was with her and, also, partly by osmosis, i’m convinced). i ate and talked.
and, then i pulled out all my favorite spreads to take a pretty picture for you, lovelies. so that while you digested these words you could also feast on a photo. wouldn’t you know, while gathering all my spreads, i gathered up memories of maggie. another faraway friend (yes, we vox too) who i don’t see often, enough, but is always there. maggie is my english friend of almost 20 years. we practically met over toast (and tea). while on a missions trip to england, at 18 years of age, i stayed in her family’s home. i remember maggie’s mom bringing me tea in bed and making me toast from bread that you had to slice yourself (this american child of the 80’s was intrigued). i was overwhelmed with being an ocean away from my family, and yet with a simple piece of toast and a warm cup of tea the anxious feelings of being homesick subsided. 18 years later, i feel like maggie is my english sister. consequently, maggie introduced my sister and me to the wonderful world of spreads. long before nutella and, the new kid on the block, speculoos (aka cookie butter) were popular on the shelves in the states they were in kitchen cabinets everywhere in europe. i’ve come to learn that brits are serious about spreads and sauces. i mean, i may be talking out of turn here, but i dare say that any good brit might say, “i’ve never met a spread or a sauce that i didn’t like (or maybe, wouldn’t try).” last year, i took an impromptu trip to england and was able to spend the last couple of days with mags. we did our best to scramble to see sights in the short amount of time that we had, but it was the time in her home over tea and toast (and really good indian food) that was the most memorable to me. we watched british tv, had milky tea and ate dinner from a tray filled with spreads and breads and cheese and meats, and we laughed and talked until our brains were tired and in that tired time i found much needed rest.
just this past saturday, i stopped by my friend sarah’s house to talk about lavender oil and sleep and such. when i walked in she had the kettle on and had made cinnamon sugar toast . . . with a baguette (best idea ever!). i’m sure she didn’t think anything of it, but it meant a lot to me. she is always making and baking and whipping up caramels, that could make her famous. she remembers things like, “oh, you like tea,” and her house is the kind that makes first time guests feel right at home. probably, because she makes them things like toast and tea.
today i’m giving thanks for toast. for all of it’s memories and meanings. past comforts and future communion.
if you come to my house, i’ll make you toast. you can pick tea or coffee. then, you can slather it with spreads or take it with cheese. but, above all, i hope you leave with a bit of comfort and the urge to go home and get your toaster toasting.
thank you for inspiring this post christina!
p.s. maybe i need to start a weekly toast time at my house. i wish you all could come!
p. p.s. an ode to tea. don’t get me started on tea because i believe that, “tea is balm for the soul,” as P.L. Travers so wisely put it.
*note – so, i just noticed that i have a citrus reamer next to my honey jar in the photo above, which makes no sense at all to the honey or my post. in my mind, i really thought i grabbed the honey dipper. lets just blame this on monday.