Saturday, 1 September 2012


     Hot buttered toast…..

                          .....Three words that conjure up images of peaceful evenings by the fireside…

You’re tucked snugly into your favourite armchair, crackling firewood casting a rosy glow over the room. By your side is a plate with large slices of crusty bread, which you brown leisurely over the flames with a long toasting-fork.

You sink deeper into the cushions, munching serenely on crisp, dark-golden, toasted bread smothered in melting, mellow butter that drips now and then onto your chin…

Toast after hot toast – your steady crunching interspersed with deep sighs of contentment.

Satisfying enough for the hungriest. Royal enough for the richest.

Hot… buttered… toast…


                                             Step into the real world, will you !?

            Whirring machines, stark white tube-lighting, clicking buttons, moronic ringtones, and stuffy central-heating form the backdrop for today’s nervy individuals who sit on their hard chairs, earnestly discussing the speed of light.
  They have just lunched on processed food and synthetic drink. They are also probably dieting. The main item at breakfast was a slice of something resembling hardboard, created coldly and impersonally by a square metal box. It was spread thinly with something pallid from a plastic tub, consumed, and forgotten.


As for contentment – what an idea! These people can’t possibly be content. They are worlds away from those tranquil scenes of the past, where placid folk with unfurrowed brows enjoyed comfort, leisure and good food. These gadget-ridden creatures can’t enjoy anything. They’re modern.

Besides, they have the toaster.

Most people agree on one point. The world is full of maniacs, and half of them are toasters.
The thing is, toasters are devilishly tricky creatures, possessing an ability to make you think you’re the one who’s really mad.

For one thing, toaster-levers never work. After standing there for ages holding the lever down, you peer into the fiery slot and think you have sighted brown. You jerk the lever up and see white. [This is confusing with brown bread.] You shove it back down, blink for a moment and that’s all the diabolical machine needs. Smoky seconds later, as you stare at your burnt toast, you realise that you have been tricked once too often and swear recklessly never to blink again.

The situation is even worse if you have a four-slot toaster, like the family who bought one thinking happily, “Four toasts at once – what a time-saver!” They hadn’t bargained on, “Four burnt toasts at once – what a mess!!”

We once had a toaster that left the print of a panda on each toast, but it had to be dark – almost burnt – before the print showed up clearly. What pande-monium there was when young –and some old – visitors were in the house. And what a chorus in our kitchen of, “Please burn my toast”, and “Why is his panda darker than mine?” Or the less loud, “Would you be so kind as to make me another panda…?”

One child, on being told that he was expected to butter his panda and eat it, sat glowering at us during breakfast, his toast beside him, and a “Don’t Touch My Panda” glint in his eye.

The most devilish is our present toaster. Although not very old, it makes hideous clanking noises and looks as though it has been recently excavated. It would like us to believe that it is a rare antique. It also tries its best to give us shocks, electric and otherwise.

Being choosy, it toasts only one side of the bread leaving us with a “Before and After” on the same slice. Naturally, the lever doesn’t work, so we hold it down with a clothes-peg. After taking the bread to meet its maker and going complacently away, we, as a family, stand united on one thing. We suffer from instant amnesia, and don’t snap out of it until we see black smoke billowing from the kitchen.

We rush to get the toast out, but the lever is stuck. We thump it, curse it, break our hands on it and unplug it, but the toaster will not care and won’t give up until it has had its fun. It then spits out the remains and sits back smugly, satisfied that we have further proof of its antique status…

This could be what our toaster thinks it is

Or maybe more like one of these fancy characters?

Dream on, dear Toaster...

Sometimes when the lever shrugs off the peg and I hear “Ping”, I go back, refix it, turn to leave, and hear “Ping” again. When this happens for the third time [and I’m ready to swear that I can hear evil, metallic laughter], I return, gnashing my teeth and wishing the toaster had a neck so that I could wring it. I am forced to unfurl a finger and use that instead of the peg.

But such is the power of this machine, that even while standing there, my finger supposedly in control, I find myself staring dreamily into space while my toast turns to charcoal.

Lets move on to toaster-styles. Here are some typical ones:

My sister puts her bread in and forgets about it. Minutes later, we hear anguished yells of, “My toast! My toast!” She races to the kitchen, jerks the stubborn lever ten times, then jerks out her favourite four-letter word ten times. She grabs a knife, and regardless of the perils of electrocution [it wouldn’t dare], pokes it into the slot and extracts bits of charred toast.
Finally, she yanks the plug out, holds the demon upside down and shakes it, removes the crumbly black residue, and leaves this strewn over the table and floor.

The toaster hates my sister…

My mother differs somewhat. She goes, singing, to the toaster, giving it little pats as she tries the lever. Then she turns startlingly from Jekyll to Hyde and gives it a series of almighty heaves which leave the bystander with severe tooth-ache.
She gets the toast out – burnt – and grimly starts scraping off the black. She goes on scraping until she reaches the sink, where she finishes the job over the soap-dish.
 [The next person entering the kitchen steps into black crumbs and crunches her way agonizingly to wherever she’s headed. Heaven help her if she’s headed for the soap!]
My mother is very stoic. She eats her toast and, out of spite, puts extra butter on it.
[I leave it to the reader’s imagination to picture my mother with the butter…and even worse…the jam. Needless to say we find it on doorknobs, newspapers, the dogs, me….…]
My father was surprisngly patient with the toaster, considering how many burnt offerings it gave him. He was very good at trying to be organized. He never left the kitchen while the toast was getting done, but, unfortunately there are always open doorways, with enticing things beyond – like the TV and headlines.
Latest headlines:  “The toasts are burning!” ... "No known survivors.”

One sad sight that appears regularly in our kitchen is of two hard black objects that in a past life believed they would one day be toast. If offered to our dog Sherry, she sits for a while in acute embarassment as they stare blackly at her. A look of deep reproach is flung at whoever is nearest and she buries them in the flower-bed, showing us what we should have done in the first place, and expecting us to store this valuable information for future reference. She finds us sadly obtuse.

So much for toasters and toast. Let's talk about "Bread"!
How many times have you bought an unsliced, freshly-baked, crusty loaf, dreaming of thick wedges of hot buttered toast rather than boring, regimented slabs?

Second question. How good are you at cutting the above loaf?

This may come as a surprise, but I am no expert.
When I have sawn off my first bit [for “bit” read “slice”] with the knife acting really stupid, I take an unbiased look at it. It is narrow on top, huge in the middle, and non-existent at the bottom. If I’m lucky, by the time I come to the end of the loaf [and I really mean “The End”] one bit will fit in the toaster.
If I’m really lucky, I manage to achieve “Hot” and “Toast”.
Next, I head for the “Buttered”.

But who said that butter spreads and melts in golden magnificence?

Golden Perfection

Whoever it was, lied.

No force on Earth would make my butter do that, especially when I never remember to take it out of the fridge – or worse – the freezer.
No, I get greasy lumps of frigid yellow, and I spend the next ten minutes breaking the knife on it, ending up with a few butter chips that I press hopefully onto the toast while muttering, “Oh that this too, too solid butter would melt!”

Could this be THAT hard?? Probably!

Needless to say, it doesn’t, and after a last wild attempt, toast and nerves go to pieces together. I hurl the butter dish out of the window and glare at what should have been “Hot Buttered Toast” but is in fact, “Cold Sad Mess”.

Now, why didn't I just get THIS??

Quite apart from that, bakery-bought "fresh crusty" loaves.....not always the most reliable thing these days. Often very disappointing.

 I tried once to bake my own, but for some reason I couldn't get my dough to evolve past "stone". The mysteries of yeast, kneading, and "proving the dough" were unfathomable, and I ran like a coward.....all the way back to the bakery.

Maybe one day I'll give it another try....and tell you all about my oven too....

More on all that another time, as the subject needs more space, the bread needs more room to "prove", and the oven refuses to appear with the toaster on the same page....[Divas!]

  There must be thousands of toast stories that haunt households the world over. In an era of constant wars and disputes, they are the one unifying factor that may yet serve to bring humans together.
But until that happens, I suppose the wisest thing to do is fling your head back and laugh. 
[If you’re lucky you might get whiplash and then your toaster will be really fulfilled.]

As for me, I’m starting to accept the fact that gentle, old-fashioned pleasures are a thing of the past: Thick slices of freshly-baked, crusty bread ... untoasted, and smothered in creamy butter - enjoyed with just about anything, at any time...... 

Days Past...

The joys of the toasting fork, open fireplaces and uneven, rough-hewn wedges of hot buttered toast.......

Gone Forever?

They have been well and truly overtaken by the speed and impatience of the modern era.

Today’s life desires us to jig feverishly around a metal box with gaping jaws.
Progress requires that we call the thing it creates, “Toast”.
Total enlightenment demands that we eat it.

And so, intelligent life, complete with toaster, goes on…..


  1. So fun! You took a simple item and made it a most fun topic! I enjoyed every word!!!

  2. Thanks Pops!! Glad you liked it...Can I hear crunching out there in cyber-space??

  3. Of course knowing me,I'd drop my toast into the fire by accident....[burnt toast!!]

  4. Now that made me crave for some buttered toast. But sadly, my bread will be going in the jaws of the metal monster. No fireplace around!!

    1. Hahaha! I can hear the evil metallic laughter coming through from here.....Check your butter right now!

  5. [Doing this comment from Neelo myself as she asked me to copy paste it. The comment option wasn't working for her] : "Oh my God! had really forgotten how well you wrote :) this is awsome! enjoyed it soooo much :) now going to have my breakfastttt!"

  6. One should be aware of a byproduct from the biochemical reactions that occur in toasted bread. The reaction between carbohydrates and amino acids produces a compound called acrylamide. Acrylamide is a chemical which, taken in high doses, has been linked to cancer, according to a 2009 article by New York University professor Marion Nestle.
    Not suggesting one needs to give up pleasures of life,however take this as free Doctors advice.
    But then,this might be a much better choice than the all too well known Widow Maker, "Paratha".
    So ignore what I said and just crunch on!!!!!

    1. i might have known someone would pour cold water on the toast!

  7. Hahaha! Thanks for the info! I shall spread it around [like my butter]. And yes! I seem to remember being told not to burn my toast so much.....but I didn't have much choice with the toaster we had! Oh dear oh dear ...I just ate a Paratha! The crunch is scheduled for a bit later when I have my NON-toaster-toasted-cheese-sandwich - made [created] in a frying pan. I wonder what danger-level category that would fit in to...

  8. A truly witty and clever piece of toast. I enjoyed every word, and apprecciated the content having once been the owner of a particularly spiteful toaster that shot my breakfast up to the ceiling on a regular basis. I really liked the idea of a butter stick!

  9. Thanks!! Yes me too...I was delirious with joy when they invented the "glue-stick" [being an avid letter writer and envelope sticker!] ...but who knew butter came that way too. Just as long as the sticks don't get mixed up....

    1. What would it be called? Blutter, glutter......?

    2. I think speech would be out of the question by then

  10. Hahahha, really enjoyed this Noshi, especially the Panda toasts. I want that toaster!! Also really liked the description of how impatient modern life has become. I really long for the days at our grandparents when we were young, sitting by the fireplace, having tea and toast and jam etc. All the best, and keep up the writing!

  11. Thanks!! You may even have had a panda toast as Im pretty sure it was the toaster we had when you all came as kids and REALLY enjoyed the FOOD! [toast featured largely!]
    About the old days, first things first...Lets get a fireplace to start with and then think about toasting on it....maybe Harry Potter can help....

  12. It gets butter every time I read it!

  13. Replies
    1. What a wonderful, witty and humorous piece, generously sprinkled with nostalgia....loved it! Please write more!