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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
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TOAST & BUTTER
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About this blog
By Linda Bassett
Author and culinary school teacher Linda Bassett provides recipes for and tips on the season's freshest ingredients. She is the author of \x34From Apple Pie to Pad Thai: Neighborhood Cooking North of Boston.\x34 Reach her by email at KitchenCall@aol. ...
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Kitchen Call
Author and culinary school teacher Linda Bassett provides recipes for and tips on the season's freshest ingredients. She is the author of \x34From Apple Pie to Pad Thai: Neighborhood Cooking North of Boston.\x34 Reach her by email at KitchenCall@aol.com.
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By lindabcooks
April 15, 2013 5:20 p.m.







 Maybe I’ve been watching too much PBS.  I’m getting irritated with characters with British accents buttering toast.  In really old black-and-white movies and on popular series like Downton Abbey, characters make a show of furiously buttering their toast.  I don’t know the reason for this.  But I know that the reason I’m so irked is that this makes toast seem unappetizing.

On these shows, a character will carefully select a piece of toast from a plate, hold it in the palm of one hand, take a little butter on an overly large knife, and start scraping away like trying to take rust off of an old garden tool.  Scratch, scratch, scratch … the sound out of Edgar Allen Poe.     

The characters, eating in large beautifully appointed dining rooms, work so hard at buttering, that it reverses the happy definition of the word  “toasty.”   That lovely word that is a bouquet of “golden,”  “crispy”, “caramelized,”  “warm,”  “buttery.”  Toast is a beautiful warm way to launch a day. 

Maybe the filmmakers want to show us that the meal is breakfast because the characters are eating it in such a well-appointed dining room, fully clothed.  (If I had a slew of servants, I’d wear pajamas or sweats at breakfast.)  Or, maybe the toast is some kind of metaphor showing that life was difficult, even for the wealthy who worked hard at buttering properly.  A dour way to launch into a day.

Or maybe toast is the historic note showing that electric toasters were not yet invented.  And that someone had to hold the bread over a flame until it reached the right color and consistency.  Then it was put it aside and callously left to get cold.  And since the kitchen was so far from the well-appointed dining room, the toast dried up in transit.

Toast and butter should be melded together like in a good American diner. These places keep alive the artistry of toasting.  A short order cook sets the salted butter by the side of the grill so it’s handy and easily spreadable.  When the bread pops, perfectly hot and golden, the butter is slathered evenly from crust to crust. 

But American TV can be just as ridiculous about toast, especially as shown in commercials.  The characters here somehow haven’t figured out that you can lift a slice of bread with just one hand.  The ads, designed to sell “healthy” spreads, show kids and their dads picking up their toasted bread one hand on each side, and holding it flat in front as they take a bite from the center of the edge facing them.  Okay, who eats toast like that?  And, why is Mom standing at the table smiling at her family as if they had just won the Nobel Prize? 

These mothers might think about showing the kids how to pick up, with one hand, a slice of warm, crisp toast, evenly slathered from crust to crust with healthy nut-and-cocoa spread or vitamin-infused canola butter, and take a bite.  Mom’s love sending them into the day.    

 

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