Why does food taste better when someone else makes it for you? Case in point (at least for me): toast.
At home, I rarely toast–at least to eat plain. I’ll toast bread for a sandwich, but rarely do I just eat it with butter or jam. But take me out to brunch or to a bed and breakfast in the UK and toast is all I want. This makes even less sense when you consider that the toast often served is made from the cheapest bread that I would never buy at home and usually arrives cold and rather limp on the table. But I will eat every piece with relish, as though it’s the most delicious thing you could possibly eat for breakfast. Or even dinner given the opportunity.
Toast has been around for centuries. No one liked eating stale bread so toasting became common in Rome as way to preserve bread. The word comes from the Latin tostum, which meant scorching or burning. Most early toast was held over the fire like a marshmallow or laid on hot stones. The toaster didn’t make its appearance until 1893 when Cromptin and Company introduced the first toaster in Great Britain. It didn’t reach America until 1909.
This early toaster only toasted on one side at a time. It took another decade for a two-sided toaster with a pop-up feature to appear. We still had to cut our own bread to make toast, though. Sliced bread didn’t appear until 1930 when Wonder introduced this modern marvel, which made toast even more popular. Today, nearly 90% of Americans have a toaster in the their home.
So why does toast taste better? Maybe it’s the familiarity–the comfort of something simple–that makes toast so powerful when I’m away from home. Or maybe I’m just hoping to see Jesus or the Virgin Mary appear in my bread.