At Kottke, we learned about the latest Bay Area food craze: $4 artisanal toast, and the compelling way it came about:
Trouble’s owner, and the apparent originator of San Francisco’s toast craze, is a slight, blue-eyed, 34-year-old woman with freckles tattooed on her cheeks named Giulietta Carrelli. She has a good toast story: She grew up in a rough neighborhood of Cleveland in the ’80s and ’90s in a big immigrant family, her father a tailor from Italy, her mother an ex-nun. The family didn’t eat much standard American food. But cinnamon toast, made in a pinch, was the exception. “We never had pie,” Carrelli says. “Our American comfort food was cinnamon toast.”
Toast, she says, represents comfort. (Carrelli also has a lot more to say about the meaning of various foods, as reported in John Gravois well worth the read piece in Pacific Standard).
Toast has been comfort food for us for as long as we can remember, the go-to food when all-hell-is-breaking-loose or we are just worn-to-a-nub. Buttered toast. Part the comfort we get from it is from making it on a rigged metal toaster on the stove top over an open flame; it’s as close as we can get to a camp fire in a city apartment. Years ago, we discovered that a Japanese Ceramic Fish Griller (you’ll find an iteration at Amazon) makes perfect toast and have since made a mental collection of stove-top toasters, believing that an electric toaster is an unnecessary space-gobbling appliance.
Recently, we came across Places I’ve Made Toast blog whose tagline is: “I have a toaster, so I make toast. I make it where ever it needs to be.” Here’s an excerpt from a post written while the authors were traveling in Chile.
While, in America, the toaster has progressed from its humble, somewhat dangerous beginnings to the complicated contraptions you find in Skymall that cook hotdogs and connect to the web, the toaster technology in Santiago, Chile has not progressed far beyond the Iron Age.
They made toast as they do in Santiago, on a stove-top toaster akin to the Japanese rig and close to our heart.
Google “stove top toasters” and you’ll find lots of iterations that make great toast and take little space. Coghlan’s Camp Stove Toaster get’s high marks as does GSI’s curiously chic Outdoors Glacier Stainless Toaster.