Happily, our electric toaster no longer toasts. Even when it did toast, it didn’t. There is something unpleasant and inept about toasters. In my mind’s eye I see floppy slices of artificial bread on a hinged platform, not unlike a miniature ducking stool, being lowered into what one would hope is a blazing inferno but is in fact a sun tanning shop. Added to this sense of hopelessness is the irritating whirring of a primitive sort of timer, the knob of which is emblazoned with graphic symbols or numbers supposedly suggesting a relationship between the time spent inside the machine and the depth of the tan to be expected. I have found this rarely to be the case. My experiences with the cult, chromium plated American toaster have been equally disappointing, more often than not resulting in one side of the bread being the colour of the girl in a Piz Buin advertisement whilst the other looks as though it stayed in its hotel room, safe from the rays of the sun.
In France the word “toast”, for the most part, refers to rusk like creations about which the less said the better. On the other hand, the words “pain grillé”* present a correct description of that which I seek when yearning for a slice of toast. A thick slice of good bread that has been grilled quickly under intense heat, which heat will allow the slab of butter placed on its hot cheeks to melt slowly into its interior, is the object of my desire. In order for this dream to come true, firstly throw your electric toaster from a high place and watch it smash on the rocks below, then turn on the grill in the oven or , ideally, a gas fired, eye level grill on an outmoded cooker, and finally lay the slices of bread under this heat in order that they may be toasted. I have fond memories of toasting bread on a long fork in front of a fire but I don’t think that it ever really happened…..however, the memory is just as clear and pleasing as if it really had. Such is the pleasure of dreams and imagination.
The French Rabbit in the picture is a combination of a thick slice of pain bucheron, Camembert, and tomato. The marriage of these ingredients was sealed beneath the red hot elements of an oven grill. As with any successful marriage, it needed loving care and attention, the application of which resulted in mouth watering happiness.
*although the words “pain grillé” offer hope, it is rare for the words to be made flesh in a French establishment. This must be done in the privacy of your own home.