Withering Glance: Toast in all its humble beauty

  • Article by: RICK NELSON and CLAUDE PECK
  • Updated: March 24, 2012 - 6:24 PM

Rick Nelson and Claude Peck dispense unasked-for advice about clothing, etiquette, culture, relationships, grooming and more.

CP: One small syllable, and such a profundity of rich associations.

RN: Finally, you've come to comprehend the spare beauty, the harmony, the poetry that is the name Rick.

CP: Uh, no. I refer to humble toast. The other night I was having a piece of Rudi's multigrain bread with flax, with Rochdale Farms hand-rolled butter and a sprinkling of cinnamon-sugar. Sorry if I sound like foodie blogger Ruth Reichl, but it really was so very good.

RN: Color me impressed: farmstead butter, chez Peck. Lordy, what's next? A CSA share?

CP: And I realized it was exactly the same foodstuff I loved as a child. Of course then it was Wonder bread, flooded with oleomargarine.

RN: This is the healthy influence of the Seward Co-op. We're on the same wavelength, as toast has recently replaced Izzy's as my bedtime snack of choice. I prefer the thin-sliced white pain de mie from Rustica, topped with a generous swipe of Parkers Farm chunky peanut butter. Heaven.

CP: We're totally having a toast party, and soon. Cheesy, savory, jelly and jam. Maybe even a song.

RN: I'm composing the e-vite as we speak. If our home were being enveloped by flames, God forbid, I would grab Robert, my laptop and the toaster.

CP: Empires have been built on doughnuts. What about poor toast? Is it because toast is best done at home?

RN: Restaurants seldom get it right. One major exception is, of course, the Scandinavian-influenced Bachelor Farmer in Minneapolis, where chef Paul Berglund is turning slices of sourdough into an art form, a dual tribute to open-faced sandwiches and the smorgasbord.

CP: That reminds me of breakfast with Annette, my Dutch stepmother. She likes dark toast topped with a cheese-planed veneer of Edam. She always cuts it in two pieces. Yum. I can't imagine living in a pre-toaster era.

RN: Same here. We can collectively thank Stillwater mechanic Charles Strite, who patented the electric pop-up toaster in 1919. It's scary, the amount of nerdacious information that fills my cortex.

CP: Let's agree to not even mention bagels or English muffins, much as I loved toasting the latter and drizzling with real maple syrup.

RN: Ever the sweet tooth. Don't get me started on Toaster Struddel or Pop-Tarts. Both are crimes against toast. I'm getting a sugar rush, just thinking about them.

CP: It sounds like we agree that life on the South Beach Diet, which views toast like Rick Santorum views gay marriage, would be unbearable.

RN: This is Variety, Claude. Less on access to contraception, and more about a weight-loss plan that incorporates Pepperidge Farm raisin-cinnamon swirl bread. Toasted, 'natch.

  • Email: witheringglance@startribune.com
  • Twitter: @claudepeck and @RickNelsonStrib
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