My new toaster

Yesterday I bought a new toaster. I expected to enjoy toast this morning but have been surprised by the memories that have popped up as well!

When I first came to China bread was very hard to come by. Usually we had it only when we baked some in a little toaster oven. No small feat, which is why we didn’t have it all that often. The bread we made was decent, but variety only came in the form of adding different combination of spices to the white flour dough. Trust me, there is only so much you can do with rosemary, oregano, thyme and Italian Spice!

One Friday night about ten of us foreigners rented the hall on the second floor of the guest house I lived in to have a dance party. Now, when you read “hall” try to picture “big empty room with a few small tables and folding chairs.” In good mid-90’s China style, the floor was mopped using only water and a tired mop that just pushed the dirt around, the walls were green on the bottom half and white on the top, and a few exposed light bulbs hung from the ceiling (half of which were burnt out). Rats were known for being on that side of the building because of the restaurant on the first floor. In all fairness, rats were known for being on all sides of that building, but they were not going to stop a good dance party. Not on that night.

In preparation we hauled our boom box and stack of tapes up to the dingy room and got ready to party like it was 1999, a freakishly futuristic time. You can guess the options for entertainment were few if this was how ten young people spent a Friday night, and you would be right.

Often the highlight of any good party is in the snacks. Someone (and this little detail has not popped back up in my memory) had a toaster! Where they got that miracle piece of equipment in a city that didn’t even have bread is a mystery – most likely it was brought in from Hong Kong –but there it was at our dance party. More time was spent in the corner making and eating toast than actually dancing. Because only two pieces could be toasted at a time, there were those waiting for toast, those enjoying toast, and those who wondered how long they needed to wait until their next round of toast. Oh the comments and the joy at eating one of the ultimate comfort foods of western society!

The snack had become the favored guest.

Dance we did! Swirling around and marveling that we had hit the jackpot and were eating actual toast. In the land of rice and spice and chopsticks, for one brief night we had bread and toppings and knives. All because we were eating … toast.

What toast memories did this bring back for you? Please share in the comments and we can have our own toast party!

Amy

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  1. Nancy February 15, 2012 at 6:32 pm - Reply

    Oh joy! my memories of toast go back to my grand-mother whom I adored. Us grand-children (probably at least 6 of us) would go to gran’s house after school. On a wet, cold, winters day (could have been July given that we were in Scotland) My prescious grandmother sat at the open fire with a long toasting fork where she toasted slice after slice of the most wonderful toast. As quick as she made it we had it buttered and eaten. I hope that I have inherited some of that patience and that my grand-children will have beautiful memories of their own in later years.

    • Amy February 15, 2012 at 8:06 pm - Reply

      Oh Nancy I love this! Another toast memory I have is being in your kitchen with George outside making a T and T sign with his fingers — indicating that he wanted “tea and toast.” You know how I love that lovely Scottish bread toasted with a cup of Tetley! Oh to join you in a cuppa right now… Amy

  2. Patricia Wood February 17, 2012 at 4:22 am - Reply

    A very timely post on toast as I was just contemplating a new toaster. Oh the joys we take for granted here in the USA. Blessings,

    • Amy February 17, 2012 at 5:34 am - Reply

      Happy shopping and if it’s at Target I’m truly jealous =) Amy

  3. David Rupert February 17, 2012 at 5:35 am - Reply

    Amy… A terrific memory. it’s amazing how the little things do that. I remember in Turkey, celebrating Christmas. There were no Christmas trees, but I hauled a lemon tree from a street vendor and we decorated that thing with such garish enthusiasm, it was the source of such great joy.

    • Amy February 17, 2012 at 5:41 am - Reply

      Now that could be another line of memories — Christmas trees used round the world! and as you point out, the joy they bring! Amy

  4. Katie February 17, 2012 at 7:26 am - Reply

    I remember talking back and forth about my melted toaster with my waiban, and trying to get them to give me a new one. She informing me that the ‘bread machine’ even though it was melted would still work. Finally I broke down and just borrowed a teammates unused one for the rest of the year. How she could have gone a whole year without eating toast is beyond me.

    PS: I miss you Amy.

    • Katie February 17, 2012 at 7:27 am - Reply

      I think I’m tired, sorry about my poor English on my post! Kind of sad since I’m in America.

      • Amy February 17, 2012 at 7:48 am - Reply

        Probably due more to tiredness than location! =)

    • Amy February 17, 2012 at 7:47 am - Reply

      Oh dear waibans! I wonder if her response would have been the same with a rice cooker? Glad you found a solution, but yes, who could go a whole year without toast if they had a toaster? I miss you too! The Mac just isn’t the same. Amy

  5. mary beth j February 17, 2012 at 11:05 am - Reply

    Amy, way to advertise how easy it is to get a toaster in Beijing. Team CQ may ask you to haul a couple back with you in April… :) Enjoyed the toast post! (had to)

    • Amy February 17, 2012 at 11:43 am - Reply

      Team CQ has been good to me … so if toaster would be a blessing, how can I refuse? :)

  6. Hazel Irene Moon March 21, 2012 at 6:05 am - Reply

    My Uncle purchased for us a 4 slice toaster when he moved in with us and brought his teen age son along with him. After church while mother was preparing dinner, the three of us children would enjoy a piece of toast with home made jam. Yumm. Mother did not bake bread, but she did bake biscuits and sometimes cinnamon rolls made with yeast.

    You are invited to share your true stories at “Tell me a Story,” at my new Blog Party: http://letmetelluastory.blogspot.com/

  7. Cris Ferreira March 21, 2012 at 7:27 am - Reply

    Amy, nice story. Here in Brazil we love french rolls. We usually go to the bakery early in the morning, buy fresh french rolls and have our breakfast.
    If you came to Brazil, you wouldn’t have any problem buying the kind of bread you americans are used to, and toasters, but if you visit someone, that person probably won’t have them. But a quick trip to the neighborhood market would solve the problem.

    • Amy March 21, 2012 at 10:07 am - Reply

      Thanks for sharing! And enjoy, enjoy, enjoy the good bread surrounding you :)!

  8. Joanne Norton March 21, 2012 at 11:36 am - Reply

    When my husband and I lived in Uganda, after church, we would go to our bedroom and lay down to rest a bit and stare at the ceiling. We would talk about what we missed at home after church: Burger King or Taco Bell or another junky fast food place. We would think of our favorite ice cream blizzards at Dairy Queen. Then, we’d have to get up and fix whatever we could put together … and it rarely was going to involve meat and never would have ice cream so far out in the Bush. Funny how we all are when it comes to “comfort foods”, isn’t it? Your story was so much fun… and I truly understood!!

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