Monday, June 29, 2015

Mangia Monday*

*Also could be titled "That one where I try to make a blogging comeback-beyond the random".**

In an effort to declutter not only my brain, but the piles of paper that are once again threatening to take over our home, I stumbled upon a legal pad displaying a blog post for a Mangia Monday series that I considered back in March. (It started with a post about artichokes followed by one about risotto.) Not only was the story complete, it also seemed to have been put through some sort of editing process, as evidenced by stray ink marks making threatening jabs at my usual pencil scratchings. Rather than move the piece of paper to some other sorting system, only to be found a few more months from now, I figured I would throw havoc to the wind, sit on the couch for a little bit longer and do some typing. I might even make a morning of it and look for the photos I had planned to have accompany this post. Without further ado, before I don't...

Toast is Simple

Do you remember the super thin bread made by Arnold? Long before sandwich thins and other ways to reduce the carbs in a sandwich came into fashion, there was that bread you had to practically peel from the loaf. I recall sitting at my grandparents' kitchen table in the Bronx, opening that plastic outer bag to get to the inner wrapping. It was a very downstate New York thing for me, like some sort of tourist experience, as we didn't typically have that melba thin bread at home in Central New York.

The puzzling question at the time was just how many slices of toast were appropriate to call breakfast. It seemed to take at least four to equal two regulation sized slices of bread. I can still see my cousin sitting across from me at the table as we delicately navigated the cooking time to as not to burn our wafers.
My toaster companion cousin and me with my grandmother, who I always remember smiling just like this, and my hairdresser grandfather.
If there happened to be leftover Italian bread, the adults would step up the game...stove toast. Now I have always had a soft doughy place in my heart for bread, especially Italian bread. When I say I enjoyed bread, I mean that dunking bread in milk was often a highlight to end my dinner with (ew, shudder). Back to the toast...the Italian bread would get cut into things more resembling hunks than slices, far beyond what a toaster slot could accommodate. The bread was speared by a long handled meat fork and then toasted over the open flame of the gas stove burner.

Oh, how I wanted to savor that taste, joyfully partake in the stove toast event. However, no amount of butter could override that faint taste of gas. I swear that's what it was. Plus, let's face it, nobody was really toasting their bread campfire marshmallow style, slowly roasting to a golden perfection. Call it blackened if it sounds more gourmet, but that toast absolutely had burnt to a crisp spots. I know that burnt is a taste some have acquired, but the mix with the gas stove taste was too much for me to enjoy. This did not stop me from trying, nor does it make me cherish the memories of my father, aunts and grandparents holding out that fork any less.
The stove toasters!  Gooda-gooda Grandma, Grandma, Aunt Fran, me, Aunt Bea, Dad and Grandpa.

**Perhaps also could have been titled "Lotsa Links"


  1. AWWW! Love this story and the pic of your grandmother. Such sweet memories!

  2. I have never enjoyed super thin bread toast or stove toast. I'm clearly missing out! :) And I love the old photos!

  3. Love the photos! I still like to sop up gravy and sauces in hunks of bread. Mmm

  4. Never heard of stove toast......Italian bread was always done as garlic bread in the oven. Where abouts in 'downstate' NY? My family was from Yonkers in Westchester.

  5. I love these posts and the old pictures as well.
    I need stove toast in my life.

  6. Stove toast roasted marshmallow style! I never imagined it, but now I can't get the image out of my head! What a wonderful memory. I bet the smell of burnt bread and gas just brings you back. I'm tempted to try!