Here’s a new, non-regular segment for you that perhaps will help me cope with the grieving process of no longer living in London: English Things I Miss, subtitle, Though Not Necessarily So Much That I Would Move Back to the God-Forsaken Land of Clouds and Complaining.
First English Thing I Miss:
The Toast Rack
It might seem random that I would say “toast rack” as my first choice in things to miss from Over There. But consider the simplicity of this device and the sheer madness that it is still in use.
The Toast Rack is exactly what you think it is, for anyone who has never been to England. It’s a toast holder. You can see from the image that it is doing its job, with a fairly simple design.
I can attest, from our travels to many Bed and Breakfasts, that the toast rack is still widely used by British people. They want their toast orderly, I gather, they want it in triangular shapes, and they want it stone cold.
Our good friend Sarah from Maida Vale explained to me the reasoning for the toast rack. “It’s to keep the toast from going all soggy! If you stack the toast, the condensation gives you a soggy mess!” I pondered the alternative–toast crumbs covering my shirt–but I didn’t mention it. I’d like to keep Sarah as a friend.
Sarah admits she herself does not use a toast rack. Instead, she has invented a highly-elaborate system for cooling that involves leaning two pieces of toast against each other in teepee formation. Once you have mastered the balance of bread, this system can be used during the dangerous “condensation phase” of cooling. Once it has passed, you must then quickly butter and shove the toast down during the remnants of the “warm phase.”
However there are flaws. This technique does not allow Sarah to enjoy only one slice of bread, ever, or to have her toast in neat triangles (cutting time might use up the last of warm phase). So that might explain why her version hasn’t caught on.
I never owned a toast rack, but I admire the idea of it. The toast rack and the solid cold, hockey-puck like bread you eat from it is a symbol of the British people’s unwavering fortitude and dedication to tradition. Over here, Colin and I just waited 8 weeks or something for an expensive Kitchen Aid toaster to get delivered. I don’t know why. But the toaster does have a fancy “warming” button! I haven’t asked Colin, for fear he might beat me with the toaster, but what the hell is that for? Isn’t the toaster supposed to warm the toast?
I am not sure, but I am sure that I would be a better, stronger, more resilient person if I stopped whining, ate my toast cold and organized, off a rack and complained about the weather instead.