Wednesday, April 23, 2008

toasty and toastie

Back in the comments for the milk and tea post, a debate has arisen about toast racks. Since mine is the only opinion that reflects the One Real Truth, I repeat my contribution here, so that everyone may benefit (again):
Toast racks are evil. The entire point of toast is that it should be warm. That way, the butter melts into it and it's yummy. The toast rack is the most efficient way to make toast cold fast.

The American way is to serve toast piled up, sometimes wrapped in a cloth napkin in a basket, so that the heat is retained. Many British people find this horrible. They say "but the toast gets soggy!" I do not understand this fear of soggy toast--and I believe that the sogginess of piled-up toast is much exaggerated. (I like it soggy with butter, after all.)

But cold toast, that is something to be feared!
Now, I endeavo(u)r to maintain a descriptive rather than prescriptive attitude toward(s) language on this blog, but I have no hesitation in being prescriptive about toast. I have a toast-based lifestyle. I have at least one friendship that is built on toast. And now I've thought of a linguistic angle on the toast rack issue, giving me a legitimate excuse to cast blame on toast racks again and more.

The linguistic angle is the adjective toasty, meaning 'warm and co{s/z}y'. Although the OED does not mark this as AmE, I've had to explain it to English folk a number of times and all of the OED's examples for this sense are American, so I think we can safely say that it is 'chiefly AmE'. (The OED offers another sense, 'having a slightly burnt flavour', which is particularly used by tea [chiefly AmE] buffs regardless of dialect.) So, why does BrE lack this evocative adjective of comfiness? It must be the toast racks! Since toast-racked toast is cold and cardboard-like with a coating of waxy butter keeping the jam at a safe distance from the bread, one would never associate it with the lovely feelings one has when, say, wrapped in a (AmE) comforter (duvet) by an open fire with a mug full of cocoa (= hot chocolate) while snow gently falls outside. Or when one puts one's feet into slippers that have been left near a radiator. Ooooh, lovely.

I've had to explain toasty to BrE speakers on a number of occasions because of its comparative form toastier, which is a relatively frequent eight-letter (AmE) bingo/(BrE) bonus word in the world of competitive Scrabble. In fact, it's probably more often played not as a bingo/bonus, but as part of a cross-play in which one adds the R at the end of an already-played seven-letter bingo/bonus, toastie. This one is a word that Americans might have to ask about (although they might mistakenly assume that it's an alternative spelling of toasty). A (BrE) toastie is a toasted sandwich; so, you might (or I might) go to the (BrE) tea bar or café and order a cheese toastie. In AmE this would be a toasted cheese (sandwich) or a grilled cheese (sandwich). For me, the AmE terms differ in that a toasted cheese is made under the (AmE) broiler/(BrE) grill, but a grilled cheese is made in a frying pan (which may be called a skillet in AmE)--although I've met AmE speakers who don't make that distinction. If it were made in one of those sandwich-press things, I think I'd call it a grilled cheese, but I can't be sure about my intuition on that--one doesn't see those machines as often in the US. In the UK (Land of Sandwiches), every tea bar has them, and they make toasties. Making such sandwiches in frying pans is not so common--I've introduced my in-laws to the wonders of the grilled (i.e. fried) sandwich through what I like to call the Three C Sandwich: cheddar, chicken and cranberry sauce. (Make it with half-fat cheddar (Waitrose's is best) and diet bread, and it can be done for under 200 calories. Be sure to put the cranberry sauce between the cheese and chicken, so that it doesn't soak the bread.)

And while this probably should be a separate post, another thing to note about toasties/toasted sandwiches is the order in which their fillings are listed. In the US, I'd have a toasted cheese or a toasted bacon and cheese, whereas in the UK, I'd be more likely to have a cheese and bacon. In both countries, it would be cheese and tomato (though, of course, the pronunciation of tomato would differ). These are what is known in the linguistics trade as "irreversible binomials": two words on either side of a conjunction (and in these cases) that idiomatically occur in a particular order. So, one says bread and butter rather than butter and bread and gin and tonic rather than tonic and gin. A generali{s/z}ation that one can usually make about such food binomials is that the first item is the one that's more "substantive"--the "meat", as it were, in the formula (hence meat and potatoes/meat and two veg, not potatoes and meat or two veg and meat). So, the gin is the stronger item in gin and tonic and it goes first, and bread is the heart of the bread-and-butter combination. BrE and AmE agree that in cheese/tomato combinations, the cheese outweighs the tomato in importance, but often disagree in the combination of cheese and meat. Better Half (although vegetarian) says that he'd say cheese and bacon but ham and cheese, but the latter may be AmE-influenced. Cheese and ham is heard in the UK (and it was all I heard in South Africa), but in the US ham and cheese is irreversible. Because it's not quite as irreversible in the UK, I'd say that there's some unsureness about which item is the 'important' bit in a ham/cheese or bacon/cheese sandwich (the cheese because it's basic to the toasted sandwich experience, or the ham because it's meat?), whereas in the US meat reliably trumps cheese.

The photo of the toast rack, in case you're the type of perverted soul who wants a toast rack, is from the website of an American company, The British Shoppe (I take no responsibility for the [chiefly BrE] twee spelling), where it's listed as 'Toast Rack (English style)'.

64 comments:

Jennywenny said...

I've heard toasty loads to describe being nice and warm. I think sometimes different regions use different terms. Toasty seemed very common in Birmingham. I think its a bit of a simplification to say that a particular slang word isnt common in british english as there are so many regional variations.

I've now got a bit of a headache trying to think of all those sandwiches.

lynneguist said...

Well, put it this way...I've never had to explain it to an American. I've had to explain it to several British people, from various parts of the country (I travel for Scrabble--or I did before Grover came along!). And considering that the OED has no British examples for it, I think it's fair to say that it's not as common in BrE as in AmE, nor as well-established. I wouldn't call it a slang word in AmE...and examples of its use in places like the New York Times give support to that impression.

But it's always the case that I'm making generali{s/z}ations here. Every individual's vocabulary, let alone every region's, is different.

Dan said...

Could "ham and cheese" vs "cheese and ham" have to do with the relative quality of the cheese in the two countries? Traditional "american cheese" certainly doesn't deserve to get top billing, but presumably in the UK they use some variety with a little more character?

steph said...

It seems to me that Brits are absolutely obsessed with BrE bacon. And I think, if I've got it right, AmE bacon = BrE streaky bacon.

Growing up, we had a waffle iron flat plates. Our grilled cheese sandwiches got made in that. Where's the Campbell's cream of tomato soup?

John Cowan said...

I (AmE speaker) call a sandwich that's been cooked in a sandwich press a pressed sandwich, or more loosely a Cuban sandwich, though the latter is properly a pressed sandwich made with roast pork, ham, Swiss cheese, and dill pickles (some say pastrami as well).

lynneguist said...

Dan, in a cheese toastie in the UK, it's likely to be cheddar. Interestingly, it's often grated rather than sliced when it goes in...

Steph, while the bacon is different, I haven't experienced BrE speakers being any morer obsessed with it than I am.

John C, what part of the US are you from?

Strawberryyog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Strawberryyog said...

I know this doesn't exactly inform the debate, and please believe I am slapping myself round the head for being frivolous even as I type. Ow. But I did wonder if you knew about this rather wonderful architectural phenomenon:

Manchester Toast Rack

Ken Broadhurst said...

In France we spread butter on a cold (that is, room temperature) baguette and then put jam on it. You wouldn't really want the butter to melt; it's got more cholesterol in it once it melts.

As for cranberry sauce and cheese on the same sandwich, well... that has to be British. My Frenchified taste buds are cringing.

Megan said...

I've never heard the British being 'unfamiliar' with the word toasty (as in toasty warm). I'm pretty sure I've used it quite frequently & heard it used before. Asking my work colleagues just now, all of them knew the word toasty and said they used it commonly! So there goes your theory there...(though I do agree about toast racks - blegh). Maybe it's just your region that doesn't use 'toasty' very much, but the 10 people I asked (all English, from different parts of the country) immediately knew what I meant.

Re: Toast racks. Most of the people also seemed to agree they were a bit silly & no admitted to having one at home. Come to think of it, the only toast racks I've ever seen were at restaurants/B&Bs. I don't think they are something normal people use (precisely because of the cold factor), but only restaurants/cafes trying to look 'posh'.

Also, maybe it's because I'm from Texas, but my grilled cheese sandwiches are ALWAYS made in the skillet - we wouldn't have them any other way. My British other half said they always made them under the grill here, but he much likes my 'fried' method better.

- (a Texan in London)

Joel A. Shaver said...

Another good American irreversible binomial: macaroni & cheese (BrE cheesy pasta, I think).

As for soggy... I've heard theories that people in the UK tend to prefer crunchy food more often than Americans. This is especially important in relation to cookies/biscuits - the traditional British ones are almost all crunchy, while the American imports are (sometimes) chewy. A few people I've spoken to associate chewy/soft with 'being left out too long'. The humidity in Glasgow, at least, is much higher than from my part of the US (Eastern Washington), so things left out tend to go soggy, rather than stale and hard.

littleraindrops said...

Can I add to the debate the Scottish breakfast variations?: "Roll and Bacon" (England: Bacon Roll) "Roll and Sausage" (Often Square Lorne Sausage, as differentiated from Roll and Links for ordinary sausages, and not to be confused with a sausage roll which is something else entirely and involves pastry) Is there a precedent for putting the filling before the bread?
As a Midlander in Scotland I find it odd as I'd call it a "Bacon Cob".
Also do Americans have an aversion to that British stable Brown Sauce (ie HP)?

lynneguist said...

Megan, if you asked people about 'toasty warm', then that's cheating! I was talking about toasty as an adjective on its own. Since it's in the context of toastier that I've had people not understand it here, it could be that it is good to them as a modifier of warm, but less familiar as a full-fledged adjective that can be made comparative.

Ken, the cranberry/cheese thing is my own American invention. Americans will eat cheese and fruit jam in a Danish (pastry), so why not in a sandwich? Try it--it's lovely!

Joel, while one does hear cheesy pasta, I more often hear macaroni cheese (without the and). That may be regional/generational. One doesn't see elbow macaroni here as much, so the macaroni cheese that Better Half makes tends to be penne or rotini.

And Strawberry Yog, nice comment. I only get obnoxious about off-topic comments if they are about linguistic phenomena that belong in a different post!

lynneguist said...

littleraindrops, there's more on sandwich names back at the post on 'baked goods' (use those words to search for it, and it'll come up--too rushed to link now!), if you're interested.

There is no aversion to HP sauce in the US--it just doesn't exist. We have A1 sauce (discussed before on this blog), which has many of the same ingredients but tastes very different. I think HP sauce tastes a bit like Arby's barbecue sauce. So, some Americans would like it, some not. I think it more likely that Americans would have an aversion to the term brown sauce, just because it doesn't sound very appeti{s/z}ing!

Miriam said...

I wonder if the confusion over "toastier" is because people are already thinking of "toastie" as a noun, rather than thinking of "toasty."

By the way, I can't speak for all Americans, but my natural reaction to brown sauce is to assume it's the Chinese restaurant sort, not something from a bottle.

Shefaly said...

Lynneguist: I have heard many British people use the word 'toasty' to mean dry and warm. Further, I have seen the word used in catalogues in Britain, which are not from American firms such as Lands' End (Let's not even start on the apostrophe there!). That said, one of my American lawyer friends, who has lived in Hawaii, CA, Indiana, thought of 'toasty' as 'cute British word'. So I guess no generalisation is possible on the word..

Megan said...

Ahh, but I said this exactly: "if I said I was toasty, would you know what I meant?" which I suppose is cheating SLIGHTLY, as most (English) people would probably hear the word 'toasty' in isolation and immediate think 'toastie'.

To be fair, I don't I ever use the modifier "toastier", so it's a bit of an awkward comparison to begin with.

(P.S. Love these blogs, but have never commented before. Look forward to seeing new ones appear on my LiveJournal feed!)

Joe said...

In America, the only place I encounter "brown sauce" is at Chinese restaurants, where it appears in about half the items on the menu. Is this the same as the British "brown sauce"?

jhm said...

From New England.

Toasty: I use 'toasty' by itself almost as an exclamatory adjective meaning nearly (if not actually) burnt or a little too warm/hot (as applied to anything; food, room temperature, something picked up without oven mitts et cetera). For the cozy meaning, I would use "nice 'n' toasty" more often than not.

Grilled: Having worked in restaurants, I will say that even though most Americans might use 'grill' when they cook outside with charcoal (or gas), this is more properly called broiling, and a steak or burger in a restaurant is cooked on a broiler (thin bars over a heat source (the thing in an oven [or toaster] is an under broiler]). The difference between broiling and grilling is the addition of an oil in grilling, broiling is dry (high heat) cooking. Therefore a cheese sandwich, with the bread covered with butter or another oil, then placed on (or under) the broiler is still a grilled sandwich, while if it is made without a fat (even on a skillet), it is a toasted one.

Syd said...

What a joy to read this post. I can't explain why, but it was lovely. I'm in agreement about toasted cheese vs. grilled cheese.

Ellen K. said...

My experience with brown sauce (in Ireland) is that it's like a thin brown gravy. (As in, pourable at room temperature.)

lynneguist said...

My fellow Americans, brown sauce is the generic name for a sauce that's like (British) brand-name HP sauce. It's brown, it's a tad spicy (just a tad) and it's used like ketchup. It's frequently used on bacon rolls" and cooked breakfasts. (This time I could be bothered to link to the previous posts.) I like it in moderation on (BrE) chips/(AmE) fries. It's somewhere in between (as I said above) A1 sauce and the bbq sauce that they give you at Arby's.

Anonymous said...

I (southern BrE) use 'toasty' principally (and quite frequently) in a slightly jocular/childish tone in the phrases 'toasty warm' or 'warm and toasty' - as when snuggled under the duvet on a chilly night. I don't think I'd use it as a stand-alone adjective.
'Toasties' (as in 'Where are my...?') in the plural in my house refers to my partner's thick, warm slipper-socks with rubber tread - it's the brand name and they're made by Totes: I don't know where the company is based but when I Google 'Totes Toasties' I don't seem to get any sites offering to sell me them in dollars.
Toasties (the sandwich kind) of course feature in the classic joke about the rabbit who goes into a pub and orders a ham toastie, a cheese toastie, and a tomato-and-bacon toastie. He eats them and then keels over and dies. Next evening the rabbit's ghost comes back to the pub. The shocked landlord asks him why he died, and the rabbit replies,

"Mixin' me toasties."

Yeah, I know.

lynneguist said...

Great joke, but I wonder how many Americans will get it. (I hadn't heard of myxomatosis till I moved here.

Cathy said...

"Irreversible binomial" -- that is the term I didn't know I needed to explain to a French speaker why you don't write "mother and wife" in an English paper. All I could come up with at the time was "it's not exactly an idiom, because it means what it says, but it just sounds wrong when you say it that way." Thanks for giving me a name for it!

The only way to eat toast is straight out of the toaster and immediately buttered. The proper place for the toaster is within arm's reach of where you're eating the toast. No need for racks or baskets or wrappings. Never order it in a restaurant, they can't get it to the table fast enough.

Ginger Yellow said...

What is brown sauce in a Chinese restaurant? Oyster? Black bean? Something else?

Brie and cranberry sauce is quite a common British sandwich filling. The cafe down the road from me does lovely brie and camembert fritters with cranberry sauce.

Sili said...

What?! No sarnie or buttie?


How do "irreversible binomials" relate to the fact that we (I?) are unlikely to talk about couples in more than one way? Always "Jack and Jill" never "Jill and Jack", for instance (I know the rhyme, but I just wanted some generic names).

bill said...

And Lynne is right...I don't get the Mixin' me toasties joke even a little bit...apparently it has something to do with a disease or condition that isn't as frequent over here. (based on Lynne's comment)

As for Toast Racks, my girlfriend loved them when we were in Scotland, mainly becasue they were cute and she loves when things are organized, but we didn't really experience the toast getting cold. Probably because I think I took the toast out of the rack right away to butter it and make sure that teh butter melted.

Thought I think the comment that said it seems to be a large cultural divide between the crispy and soft textures hit it right on the head.
Wasn't there a previous post about this involving cookies and a slice of bread?

JohnB said...

I (BrE) don't use toast into mean waqrm - I would say 'As warm as toast'. However, that may well be because I can be quite old fashioned in the way I speak.

Aa for toast - it has to be Cut nice and thick and allowed to cool before you butter it. Not left long enough to go cold - but it should be buttered when there is just enough heat leaft to start melting the butter.

My (AmE) wife used to butter my toast and then put two slices butter side to butter side to help it melt and soak in. Sha has now learned the error of her ways. She doesn't touch my toast anymore :)

lynneguist said...

Cathy--'irreversible binomial' is a term coined by Yakov Malkiel in a 1959 article in Lingua, if you want to look it up.

Sili, there have been some nice studies of the order of couples' names. The number of syllables has an effect, but there is a bias toward(s) putting the male name first in heterosexual couples. A recent one was Ladies First? Phonology, Frequency and the Naming Conspiracy by Saundra Wright, Jennifer Hay and Tessa Bent. (WARNING: link is .pdf file.)

We did sarnie and butty back at the baked goods post (click on bacon roll link above).

GY--brown sauce in US Chinese restaurants is a bit of a mystery to me. My mother always asks the waiter if her dish will be in brown or white sauce (preferring brown). God knows what it is...soy saucy, I think. Anyone got the inside scoop?

Myxomatosis is a disease that affects rabbits, and there was an epidemic of it in the 1950s in Europe, including the UK.

mollymooly said...

I surmise that the lower frequency of "toasty" as a synonym for "warm" is related to the greater propensity to eat toast cold.

My Irish sister is inordinately fond of "toasty" (usually followed by one or more exclamation marks) as an approbatory term for a room or foodstuff. Our family always has toast warm.

The 100-million-word British national Corpus has 5 instances of "toasty" (4 of which use it literally, meaning "toasted"), 1 instance of "toastie", 10 instance of "toasties" (3 of which refer to the slippers Anonymous' wife wears) and 0 instances of "toastier".

jmc said...

In both countries, it would be cheese and tomato (though, of course, the pronunciation of tomato would differ).

I'm not sure that cheese and tomato is universal in the US, though. In my own region, a tomato and cheese sandwich is a summer treat to relish. Made with fresh tomatoes straight from the garden or the farmers' market, the tomato is definitely more "substantive" part of the sandwich. Certainly the quality of the sandwich is more dependent on the quality of the tomato than the type of cheese, which may vary according to taste.

Anonymous said...

I am very slightly surprised that no Brit reader has reminded us all of that great Paul Young single from 1978 ... Toast

http://www.lyricskeeper.com/paul_young-lyrics/224965-toast-lyrics.htm

has the lyrics but beware of pop-ups .

Ginger Yellow said...

OK, so what's white sauce, then? I can't think of any white sauces at all in Anglo-Chinese food.

lynneguist said...

I'm posting the following for Jan Freeman, as Blogger isn't being nice to her:

"Anyone have experience with "toasted cheese" vs. "grilled cheese" sandwich as a US regionalism? The sandwich was always "toasted cheese" in my Ohio growing-up years; but in Boston I've switched to "grilled cheese" without noticing it. Both sandwiches are made in the skillet, preferably in salted butter.

I have made diet versions -- make dry toast, add cheese, warm in toaster oven -- but it's hardly worth it.

And Steph is right: The classic accompaniment is Campbell's tomato soup (made with milk). "

Anonymous said...

I (a western American speaker) agree that a "grilled" cheese sandwich is made with copious amounts of butter (yum) in a skillet and not actually grilled. A sandwich that is grilled or toasted in a grill press is always (at least nowadays) called a panini.

MikeH said...

Thank you for this post! I was wondering if I was going crazy: I had never heard of a toast rack (I refer to them as toast coolers) before moving to England but wasn't sure if they were popular in America and I just wasn't paying attention. Now that I know they are a typically 'English' thing, I can write a long-overdue post about them.

I mean, who wants cold toast? Especially when most restaurants store their butter next to the liquid nitrogen.

And toasted cheese sandwiches--my wife won't let me make one for her, and, of course, I won't let her make one for me. When we have them, we always make our own.

Howard said...

Mike: at the risk of repeating the comment I wrote in a previous topic, toast racks do not automatically result in cold toast. All you have to do is eat the toast from the rack before it goes stone-cold. It's a time management thing.

The purpose of toast racks is not to allow toast to cool, but to prevent sogginess and 'toast sweat'.

However, if you like your toast soggy and sweaty, I suppose you could always try steaming it over a pan of simmering water, then serve it accompanied with a jug of melted butter to pour over it! ;-)

lizeff said...

the toast thing is a huge bone of contention in my household as well, even though we are 2 americans living in england. My husband wants his toast warm, soggy or not and always piles toast on top of toast. I want my toast warm AND crispy, so i've perfected the technique of stacking the toast slightly askew so that they stay warm, but don't steam each other. My husband thinks i suffer slightly from OCD as a result.

as for 'cheese and tomato,' I usually refer to it as 'grilled cheese with tomato.' grilled cheese is always always made in a skillet in our house.

Canadian said...

I call it grilled cheese whether it's made in a skillet (frying pan), whether it's an open-face sandwich that I put under the broiler, or whether it's made using a sandwich press. I've never heard toasted cheese, though I've read it in British novels.

Anonymous said...

I grew up (in the US) hearing the term toasted cheese sandwich, probably because my grandparents were from Scotland. Since all my peers used the term grilled cheese sandwich I stopped saying toasted sometime or other (can't remember when). Very interesting blog and discussion. btw- my vote is anti toast rack, warm toast with lots of melty buter.

bill said...

I don't really know the ingredients for a Chinese Brown or White Sauce, but I am a huge Chinese food fan and have had them both amny times and will try to explain tehm as best I can.

A Brown sauce usually comes with Beef & Broccoli. It is sort of a thickened Au Jus, few to no spices at all.
A White Sauce is similar, but with Chicken. It would be in a Moo Goo Gai Pan (Chicken with Vegetables) and is similar to a thick chicken stock, but does not really have a "chickeny" flavor to it. Again, with very little, if any, spice.

Knowing a little about cooking, this is just a guess, but it seems to me like it is just flour added to the sauce that is created simply by cooking the dish.

JohnB said...

Howard. Well said.

lynneguist said...

My problems with Howard's reasoning:

1. If you eat the toast quickly enough that it doesn't cool down, then it won't have had a chance to get soggy either, so why put it in a toast rack?

2. The act of putting it in a toast rack cools it--so I suspect Howard doesn't like his toast as warm as I do (i.e. as warm as it should be!)

3. Toast racks are used in restaurants/cafes, and there one has no control over how much time elapses between toaster and table. Result: cold toast.

Ken Broadhurst said...

It must be the French butter, which is higher in butter fat and contains less water, and therefore is easier to spread even if you have taken it out of the refrigerator only a few minutes before eating it. It goes better on cool or even cold bread. Sort of like good spreadable cheese, I guess.

When I was growing up in North Carolina, we had "grilled" cheese sandwiches made on a griddle at the drug store soda fountain. At home, since you probably didn't have a griddle, you had to make them in a skillet. They were fried in butter until the bread turned brown and toasty (crispy).

In France, what you have is a croque-monsieur, probably made with béchamel sauce, ham, and cheese. Much more refined. I've gone native, I guess.

Though it is true that people nowadays eat French cheese with "confiture" -- plum or black cherry jams, for example. Oh well.

Autolycus said...

Have you read Kate Fox's comment (in "Watching the English") about toast racks? English supporters of the toast rack would argue that it keeps toast dry and crisp, that separating the slices of toast and standing them upright stops them becoming soggy, which is what happens to American toast, served piled up hugger-mugger in a humid, perspiring stack on the plate, some times even wrapped in a napkin to retain yet more moisture. The English would rather have their toast cool and dry than warm and damp. American toast lacks reserve and dignity: it is too sweaty and indiscreet and emotional.

Except, of course, that very few people in Britain actually have or use a toast rack at home. I suspect it was a relic of the Victorian country-house style of buffet breakfast, adopted by the aspirant middle classes of the time. The only people who still have a use for one are keepers of hotels and boarding houses who aren't in a position to make toast individually on demand, and would think it "common" to ask or allow guests to make their own as they go (such people often seem to end up running B&Bs). And for a long time, of course, it was the perfect wedding present for people to give who didn't really know or like the couple all that much...

Howard said...

I don't think my reasoning is the problem: what we need is laboratory evidence (anyone out there have the means and instruments to test the moisture content and temperature of toast in the differing circumstances? :-) )

But my answers to Lynne:

1) Toast straight out of the toaster contains moisture. Do the following to test this: lay your toast on a plate or breadboard as soon as it comes out of the toaster. After ten seconds or so lift it up and observe the 'toast sweat' which will have condensed on the plate/board. If you leave the toast with both sides open to the air for the same time after it comes out of the toaster, the moisture evaporates without causing sogginess in the toast. This is what a toast rack is supposed to do.

2) The act of putting a piece of toast flat on a plate cools it too.

3) If you are in a cafe or restaurant and your toast is served to you cold in a rack - complain! Send it back!

It all comes down to how people like things, I suppose. But I have thought of another Heston Blumenthal-like technique for those who like their toast soggy and sweaty:

Use the steam-blower nozzle of your steam-iron to re-moisturize your toast as it comes out of the toaster. If it appears to be getting any less hot, use the ironing surface to heat it up again, while continuing to apply steam. Then spray the toast with aerosol liquid butter -- I am sure such a thing must exist in the U.S.A. (why am I so anxious that I might actually not be wrong about this?!) Voilà - perfectly soggy and sweaty toast!

JohnB said...

Autolycus - I don't have a toast a rack, but after the toast comes out of the toaster, I generally stand the two slices (mine is a two slice toaster!) an inch or so apart and then lean them against each other - making a sort of tent.

It works really well to allow the toast to cool without going soggy. I wait until the toast has cooled sufficiently that butter doesn't turn to liquid the second its applied.

The Toast should be thick, crispy on the outside and soft in the middle. the butter should just be melting so that some is starting to seep into the toast, and should be spread thickly. Then, perhaps, a thin layer of strawberry conserve or honey.

Delicious.

Roger Green said...

Cold toast - yuck. Grilled cheese- yes (upstate NY).

And now I have some damn cereal stuck in my mind called Post Toasties. "Elijah's Manna (1904) corn flake cereal was created by CW Post. The name came from "Elijah" of Biblical fame. We understand the cereal was renamed Post Toasties in 1908 due to pressure from Fundamentalists." (http://www.lavasurfer.com/cereal-post2.html). Apparently discontinued in 2006 by Kraft Foods.)

Doug Sundseth said...

Toast is perfect when buttered immediately after it leaves the toaster, then spread with inordinate amounts of brown sugar.

For those who prefer drier toast, though, I suggest the use of a hair dryer (or heat gun, if one is available). Fifteen minutes of exposure should remove every trace of water, making it the very antithesis of "sweaty". And the resulting consistency will make spreading frozen butter much easier. (I recommend the use of a belt sander for that latter task.)

ps. In light of Howard's helpful comments, I thought it only right to return the favo[u]r.

Howard said...

LOL!

Truly excellent suggestions, Doug!

c in nyc said...

I'm in the Northeastern US (nyc) and I'll second Anonymous, the western American speaker, that I've never heard toasted sandwich. They are commonly called panini in these parts. (And to the consternation of Italian speakers, panini refers to just one. The plural is paninis.) I don't know what these things were called before the fairly recent arrival of panini--I think they didn't really exist around here. Pressed sandwich is something I've never seen in this area. It sounds like a AmE regionalism to me, like Cuban sandwich, which I believe is primarily (and expectedly) from Florida.

lynneguist said...

I'm from the northeast too, and toasted cheese is what we ate during Lent. No relation to a panini--it's the less glamorous way of making a sandwich (in the oven). I think it's dying out because most people make grilled cheese now...

Ginger Yellow said...

"A Brown sauce usually comes with Beef & Broccoli. It is sort of a thickened Au Jus, few to no spices at all.
A White Sauce is similar, but with Chicken. It would be in a Moo Goo Gai Pan (Chicken with Vegetables) and is similar to a thick chicken stock, but does not really have a "chickeny" flavor to it. Again, with very little, if any, spice."

Clearly there are big differences between American Chinese food and British Chinese food (maybe worth a post, Lynne?). I only rarely eat Chinese food when I'm in the States, and then it tends to be dim sum. But I eat it a lot in the UK and have never come across either of these. The most common sauces in the UK are black bean, sweet and sour, oyster and Kung Po.

lynneguist said...

I don't think I'm qualified to compare Chinese food. (I did read an excerpt from a new book comparing US Chinese and Chinese-Chinese food, though.) Perhaps one of the food bloggers reading this could do the job?

One thing I never got used to in South African Chinese food (SA has a reasonably-sized Chinese population) was the gherkins--in everything.

John Cowan said...

I'm from New Jersey originally, but I've been living in NYC for almost thirty years now. Of course there are a lot of Floridians in NYC and vice versa -- indeed, my wife moved to Florida from North Carolina at age 18, met a lot of people she really liked, and followed their spoor to NYC, where she's lived ever since.

I use pressed sandwich to cover both Cuban sandwiches and paninis.

TootsNYC said...

Actually, there IS no good way to store toast. The toast rack is evil, and slightly steam toast looses the crunch that so beautifully offsets the softness of the warm interior.

All toast should be eaten while standing over the toaster, immediately after buttering, which should be done w/ room temperature butter immediately after the toast pops out.

Oh, and a grilled cheese sandwich is properly made on a griddle . (I can't believe the Texan in the crowd didn't spot that.)

http://www.apptrav.com/lodge-reversible-grill-griddle.jpg

The two-burner cast-iron griddle is my favorite for home use (it conveniently reverses to a grill), but there are other styles.

http://www.waterproducts.ca/images/Waterless_cookware_CL_Griddle_lg.jpg

The commercial kind often sits side-by-side w/ a grill.
http://www.made-in-china.com/image/2f0j00bvCtcPrBaaVLM/Griddle-and-Grill-NGH-822-.jpg

Akralia said...

Now my Mom and I, were both raised in texas and we went round and round on the toast thing.

She grew up eating a type of toast that was cooked either in a skillet or under a broiler. Usually the latter. Bread was put in buttered and broiled. It produced a limp greasy yellow pastry that she adored. I on the other hand, liked it a little, but grew to dislike it greatly.

When she was bedridden when I was 5 our neighbor-lady came and brought breakfast on a tray. It was then I had toast with unmelted margarine on it. For years I thought it was the brand of margarine I prefered.
No. It's the unmelted state. So call me wierd. My husband does, when I take the toast out of the toaster and wave it around. I like it slightly warm, but not warm enough to melt the butter (i use butter now thank you)

this has been a most entertaining thread.

nuffsed
53

Hazel said...

Leaving aside the whole toasty debate, I have never heard a cafe called a 'tea bar' - and I have lived in the UK all my life!

lynneguist said...

Tea bar and cafe are not synonyms--as the 'or' there was meant to indicate. We have tea bars at the university, little places in each building where one can buy a tea or a sandwich, etc. (The whole having-a-place-to-buy-tea-in-just-about-every-building thing is very UK university to me.)

It is in the OED:
'tea bar, a bar (BAR n.1 28) at which tea is sold as a beverage'

1952 Times 12 Nov. 3/2 *Tea bars are increasing. 1976 Lancs. Evening Post 7 Dec. 2/2 Mrs. Alice Durdle serves tea to the over 60s at the Lilian Wood Memorial Centre tea bar in Market Street, Preston.

Hazel said...

Thanks for that, but tea bar is still a new term to me

We have the same on our campus, but they get called cafe bars mostly.

disgruntled said...

Way too late to the party as usual, but if you can't eat your toast straight from the toaster (and I agree it's the best way) then take it out of the toaster and crush it lightly (oxymoron?) with the palm of your hand so the steam escapes before stacking it up.

We have a toast rack and yes, it was a wedding gift (I'm trying to think now who gave it to us who clearly didn't like us that much!) which we use for storing letters and documents we need to get our hands on quickly. As far as I'm concerned, that's the only use for them.

julio said...

Aca un sanwiches de jamon y queso tostado se pide como tostado.

David Lauri said...

As an American I don't worry about toast sweat and don't like cold toast, but I'll go even further and say that bread should be buttered before it's toasted for maximum deliciousness.

In fact, to make cinnamon toast (do they eat that in Britain?), I like to soften butter for about 10 seconds in the microwave, then mix it with sugar and cinnamon and then spread it over the slices of bread and then put the buttered bread in my toaster oven (that wouldn't work in a traditional toaster, which is why I don't have one). Absolutely scrumptious!