Is there a more quintessential comfort food for Americans living abroad than toast (preferably slathered with peanut butter and jelly)? Most of us can go a long time with out a lot of things, but extended periods of time without toast will eventually start to prey on our minds and emotions.
Earlier this week a colleague and I found ourselves in the need of new toasters. Her ‘toaster’ oven was on the blink and my supposedly top-quality brand toaster had decided that the number settings were merely an indication of how quickly to burn the toast instead of an indication of when the toast should automatically pop up.
So, we set off to the nearest METRO store to purchase new toasters. As we were on our way home in the taxi, we got to ruminating on the importance of toast in the life of an American expat and started exchanging toast stories. We’ve both been in China a very long time, so we remember the days when toast was scarce and oh-so-special! She wrote up one of her stories in a blog post titled “Dance Party with Toast.” Give it a read. It’s quite funny.
In the early days, before we had toasters, we had bright orange toaster ovens. Under a centrally planned economy, someone somewhere had decreed that toaster ovens in China would be orange. Bread itself was hard to come by, but when we did manage to find some (usually on a trip to Beijing), to be able to toast it was glorious. Trips to Beijing also yielded cans of cheese (yes, I said cans), which meant that we could now have cheese toast. That was positively divine!
When I was a language student in Changchun, my classmate (who lived in the dorm room next to mine) went in together to buy an orange toaster oven and a teflon frying pan. Every morning we had ourbreakfast routine: I would make the toast and she would make the scrambled eggs, and we’d meet in the hallway to make the exchange.
Sometime in the late 1990’s actual toasters appeared. We were delirious. I promptly bought one, thus reserving the orange toaster oven to the baking of those other necessities of life, like brownies.
It is said that man shall not live by bread alone. That’s true, but if there are points for at least trying, then I should be ok.
Especially if the bread is toasted.
Leave a comment and tell me some of your toast stories
(Note: the photo above was shamelessly – but with permission – snatched from Amy’s blog, since we bought the same toaster and daily toast the same Bimbo bread)