I burned my toast this morning. I wasn’t happy about it, partly because I do it more often than I’d like to admit. Also, I like toast.
I know a lot of people who would throw the toast out and, if they had time, make some more. But I didn’t.
As I was cursing to myself over the sink, scraping away the burned bits, it occurred to me that what I was doing was kind of silly. Why try to resurrect a measly piece of toast? Just toast another piece of bread, dummy. But knowing that it was silly wasn’t stopping me. I even remarked on how odd it was that I was continuing to scrape, that I knew I was going to eat it anyway and it was going to taste terrible.
Then I remembered my mother.
When I was a kid, any of the bread in our house was made by my mom. If you’re familiar with homemade bread, you’ll know that it makes amazing toast, especially with a lot of butter and a thin coat of creamed honey.
And it wasn’t just any homemade bread. I’ve had homemade bread that sucks; dry, lumpy, tasteless, tough… My mom’s bread was — literally — award-winning. Second-best in Ontario, officially, several times, despite having been frozen and shipped 1,400km to Toronto for judging. Every day, my sandwiches were made from award-winning 60% whole-wheat bread. In high-school, people would offer to buy my sandwiches. Friends would ask for loaves to take home, and then eat them entirely by themselves without telling anyone else.
The bread was good, and we knew it and didn’t take it for granted.
Perhaps more importantly, it was made by my mother. For us. It’s easier to buy bread, and for the amount of time it takes to make bread three loaves at a time, there’s certainly a cost benefit to buying it instead. But she chose to make it. Just like she chose to refuse to buy Kraft products, because (as she said) ‘no company that big should be making food.’ She was making what she felt were responsible, ethical choices to ensure that her children were putting good things into their bodies, and we knew that too.
My mom would also add that there is a spiritual dimension to bread that imbues it with significance, that in eating good bread made by loving hands, you are being fed in all ways.
So if ever it burned while toasting, we ate it anyway. We just scraped off the burned bits and used more butter. We knew it was the kind of bread you don’t throw away unless it has been effectively destroyed.
So maybe my scraping of burned, store-bought bread this morning was autopilot, just something I learned a long time ago I do by rote.