Sunday, January 23, 2005

Hello, toast

Snow. Lots of it. Stayed indoors this weekend. Stayed on the couch, read books and newspapers and surfed. Had toast made under the broiler, coffee, the remains of the bitter chocolate delirium. A great day.

I think it was Fran Leibowitz who wrote that when a shop called "Bonjour Croissant" opened in her neighborhood, it made her want to open a place in France called "Hello, Toast!"

Toast. Mmm.

I actually never had space in my apartment for a toaster - I literally did not have a counter. When friends would move to NYC, I would break the news to them that you just can't have a bunch of little appliances hanging around. Space is at a premium. Kitchens are tiny or non-existent. Toast lives at the diner on the corner. You can go visit it anytime. I used to say to Julie, let's go visit toast.

Cinnamon toast. Sourdough toast dripping with butter. Dense homemade bread toasted in an extra-wide toaster. Toast with apple butter. Toast with peanut butter (which is only one small step away from a grilled peanut butter sandwich, a godlike thing.)

There was a while there where I was eating all my meals at diners, even though I love to cook. My apartment on West 84th Street with no kitchen to speak of made it a little difficult to whip together breakfast on a whim, so I did what everyone else does, and went out. I alternated between Cafe 82, and City Diner (slightly more expensive, but incredible salads.) I would have two eggs scrambled, bacon, and of course, toast. I got into a habit where I would read the Daily News while I had my meal. It always had to be read in the same order - the television section while I was waiting for the food to arrive, then the gossip pages if the kitchen was taking a while - then, while I was eating, the four pages of comics (the central reason I read the Daily News.)

Now, here we come to the title for this blog. I have never been the world's best eater. I think I have passable table manners, but somehow food rebels against me. Hello white shirt, meet tomato sauce. Oily salad, drop in on Mr. Khaki Pants. Crumbs, crumbs, crumbs everywhere. I will always be able to retrace my steps, as long as I have crackers to munch on.

So, when you eat too many meals alone in diners, the way most of New York seems to do, you can get ... idiosyncratic. Salad ... it's a finger food, yes? Forks just get in the way and make it difficult to actually deliver the greens from bowl to mouth. Besides, there are comic strips like Mutts and Get Fuzzy to absorb while eating. A fork is just another distraction.

Basically, I was a guy in a baseball cap grunting and chuckling at his newspaper while shoveling salad into his face with his fingers. Oh yes, table for one.

These days, even though I now have a kitchen in which to cook and a counter on which to keep appliances (although still no toaster,) I can't escape my essential nature. After we finish eating, G. the Dog is allowed to come downstairs and rejoin us (she knows that during mealtime she has to amuse herself elsewhere.) Once she comes downstairs, the first thing she does is check the kitchen floor for anything delicious that might have been left behind. She then comes out to the living room (yes, we're bad, we eat in front of TiVo) and circles like a shark around the coffee table to pick up a morsel or two. And then, she leaps into my lap and snuffles her way across my shirtfront, vacuuming up the crumbs.

She is rarely disappointed in her quest.

She never bothers giving D. the once-over. He leaves no traces. I don't know how he does it. I wasn't raised in a barn. What's my problem?

Not enough cinnamon toast.


Blogger Jen said...

Yeah, I'm like that too. Karent's always like, "what's that on your face?" I can't help that my mouth's too small.

11:25 AM  
Blogger Zenchick said...

um...just for the record...I live here in Baltimore, and have barely enough room for my toaster :)

9:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who said "man does not live on bread alone"?

Oh, it was God.

Well screw that! S/he's never had a fresh baked, flaky buttermilk roll smothered with butter and drizzled with honey.

5:20 AM  

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