Bread With a Side of Bread Please [ 2005-11-08, 11:12 p.m. ]

I have had toast for dinner the last three nights in a row.

The first night was a fluke; we’d been flagellating ourselves all morning - I MEAN GOING TO OPEN HOUSES - and turned to greasy hamburgers for comfort, and these hamburgers, along with a certain double-scoop of ice cream on a sugar cone, left us with a case of the lead belly all afternoon and evening. Until about 10:00 p.m., when we were suddenly gripped with wild hunger mania and Kent disappeared for 10 minutes and returned with English muffins and Bud Light.

Last night the husband had a late meeting which meant the wife could eat whatever the hell she wanted for dinner, and the wife wanted MORE TOAST PLEASE. I had English muffins and wheat bread toast and even one piece of toast with trashy American cheese singles on it. Tonight Kent has a late class, so again ALL TOAST ALL THE TIME FOR ME, this time starting with a grilled cheese, moving on to an English muffin with jam and then having a “dessert” of MORE TOAST – English muffin, well done this time, with a shitload of butter.

I love toast. And what’s more, I’d forgotten how much I love toast. I go through food phases during which I cannot get enough of an item, and then all of a sudden stop eating it, and until one fateful night when my husband walks through the door bearing Thomas’ English Muffins or popsicles or string cheese, the love remains forgotten. I am back on a major English muffin kick right now, just like the old days when I would start every day with an English muffin and a strawberry yogurt. That is the exact breakfast I ate every day for the two years I worked at a big investment bank, changing only the topping of the English muffin: usually it was jam but on occasion I would substitute the veggie cream cheese that lurked on the corner of the Carb Bar section in the [subsidized and therefore CHEAP] cafeteria.

During the week of my South Beach Dieting (okay, FOUR DAYS, whatever), I realized how much I love my bread. I love it a lot. And I love it well beyond the taste, or the very, very excellent job it does of holding butter and/or cheese. I love bread because it makes me happy. It is comforting. It is comfort. Dammit, I need my carbs! Toast it up, bake it in a scone, layer in light, flaky pieces or simply HAND IT TO ME FRESH AND IN ONE OF THOSE WHITE PAPER BAGS WHICH ALWAYS BRING HAPPY, HAPPY TREATS.

In my personal life I can be flighty and easily bored but when it comes to food, I am a creature of habit and eating the same thing every single morning gives me a great deal of joy and comfort, like filing down a snagged nail that has been bothering me or finally making the bed or taking off my shoes and bra when I get home at night. I will go months without varying my breakfast routine, then suddenly switch everything and stick with the redux for another six months straight. And when something, be it a long line at the coffee shop or a morning meeting or a bastard diet banning carbs, keeps me from my breakfast routine, I get mad. And sad. And I mourn the absence of my raspberry scone (or egg whites on wheat bagel or English muffin and yogurt). Because BREAD MAKES ME HAPPY.

I am more flexible with lunches, and dinner is a grab bag which depends on the season, budget, weather, television schedule and hormone levels. But for me, breakfast is when I have my Alone Time with a pastry.

I get so emotionally attached to certain food routines that I have always steered clear of any addictive drugs because I’m pretty sure that if a baguette can do what it does to me, narcotics are bad, bad idea. In the meantime, wheat is my vice.

I don’t really like pasta and I downright hate rice (although I will tolerate it in sushi form), but bread and baked goods are my dietary downfall and security blanket. My current morning routine is a scone and a café au lait, and if you take that away from me, be prepared to find me staring forlornly at my computer screen from 8:15 to 8:45 each morning. Baked goods will be my downfall. My husband’s week spot is sweets, the more pre-packaged the better (cookie dough and donuts top the list) and my mother’s is crunchy things like pretzels and chips. Brit goes for chocolate while I could kill myself gently with croissants.

I think my ultimate comfort food would be cinnamon toast. If I were a celebrity and Bond No. 9 or Creed or Hermes or hell, Bonnie Bell, approached me about developing a signature perfume, I would tell them I wanted something fresh and green and earthy, with topnotes of CINAMMON TOAST ON A RAINY NIGHT WHILE I AM IN STRETCHY PANTS PLEASE. Plain, sliced bread is fine, but toast is…the greatest thing since sliced bread, I suppose. Now top that piece of toast off with some butter and cinnamon and sugar and let it all make a nice layer of goo (while the toast remains crispy on account of the TOASTINESS!) and get ready to taste what a hug would taste like if hugs had a taste. And if any of you make your cinnamon toast in any way OTHER than pre-mixing cinnamon and sugar in a tiny bowl and then sprinkling over buttered toast, well, I’m afraid that you are just WRONG.

My brother M. could eat half a loaf of bread at a time, in toast form. While J. was having his nightly bowl of vanilla ice cream, M. would have piece after piece of toast. [And J. had his own brand of comfort food – everything White. Mashed potatoes, rice, vanilla ice cream, plain turkey with mayonnaise on white bread, ice, which he would get a big glass of and CRUNCH CRUNCHCRUNCH on while we watched television.]

Speaking of comfort food and my brothers…growing up, on any of our birthdays, we were allowed to pick whatever we wanted for dinner, no questions asked. I usually gravitated towards pizza but mixed it up with turkey (one year I asked for a BBQd turkey PLUS gravy and mashed potatoes), salmon, crab, pancakes and crepes on occasion. My brothers, more often than not, would pick the same. Exact. Thing. Every. Year.

Which was buttered noodles.

Which is exactly what it sounds like. Usually penne, with butter and some parmesan. The end. And they looooooved it. It was their ultimate comfort food, what with the soft and doughy and buttery and warm and In A Bowl and all that. I would know it was a Buttered Noodles night at home because I’d come home from swim practice and see that the kitchen windows were all steamed up from the pasta. I usually pushed the noodles around my plate and sighed with exasperation, but sometimes, MAN, does a bowl of buttered noodles sound good.

Not as good as toast, of course.

What is your ultimate comfort food?

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