The other night we were having something-or-other that really cried out for toast. But alas, there was no bread in the house, and dinner was almost ready. So S. ran out to the bodega down the block and brought home a loaf -- of Wonder Bread. It is a variety described as "buttermilk," though the effect of this buttermilk is a little difficult to discern. Maybe it's noticably different that normal, ordinary Wonder Bread, but it seems pretty plain to me. It's Wonder Bread, the Twinkie of breads, terrifying in its shelf-stability and squishy whiteness. But oh, it makes the dandiest toast.
I was perhaps unjustifiably shocked by how Platonically ideal wondertoast turns out to be. So evenly and crisply does it toast, so steamy and toasty is the smell that rises as it does, so perfectly and goldenly does it take the butter. I don't think I'm going to start buying it all the time, but I also won't have the slightest bit of trouble using it up.
And so we have been having toast aplenty. First we had it with a sort of classic British fry-up (vegetarian variation). Last night we had succotash with buttered toast fingers (delicious). And we've been having it most every morning with my new absolute favorite spread, Mackays spiced ginger preserve. It is a sort of marmelade of ginger, with lovely tender pieces scattered throughout. I am the sort of person who can eat alarming quantities of crystallized ginger at a sitting, and one of the most wonderful things I have ever eaten was a piece of stem ginger in syrup, which if you can get it is utterly divine alongside a savory breakfast, at least if you are the kind of person who likes it when the maple syrup gets among your sausages.
I own a much loved and battered copy of Jane and Michael Stern's Square Meals, which is a somewhat bewildering cross between campy food history, with deadpan recipes for things like the grape-juice infused "Kilauea Purple Passion Rice" mixed together with genuinely appealing nostalgia dishes like noodle kugel. Their section on "Toast and Cereal," which falls mainly into the latter category, suggests baking your own in a lidded pullman loaf pan (an item I have never encountered in real life) or using the classic Peppridge Farm Toasting White, which I'm sure is dandy too.
And when you've obtained your perfect toasting bread, and life is a bit much for you to bear, and you've tired of butter and jam and cinnamon sugar and even ginger preserves, you can have that most nursery of lunches, Welsh rarebit.
For two people:
Four to six slices bread
8 oz. cheddar cheese
1/4 c. beer (flat is fine), or milk if you are feeling extra mild-mannered
1 t. prepared mustard
Gently melt cheese and beer together, stirring, until smooth. Do not allow to boil. Stir in mustard and pepper. Meanwhile, toast and butter bread. Cut into triangles. Pour cheese over toast. Eat with knife and fork.