In our twelve years of marriage, My Beloved and I have owned perhaps five toasters. I think my parents, in more than fifty years of wedded bliss, owned one. What is it with toasters these days?
When I moved to California, I left my toaster behind. Moving only my most cherished belongings was already horribly expensive, so the toaster had to go. I figured I'd just buy another one on the Left Coast. And that's what I did, the first of several that just didn't do the job.
It seems that with modern toasters there is no setting between "anemic" and "charred." At first, I thought I had just bought the wrong toaster so when I got Toaster Rage for the nth time I would go out and buy another, more expensive toaster, always hoping to find the Cadillac of toasters. Nothing worked. My toast was still either pale and pliant or rigid and blackened, unless I watched it carefully and popped it up manually when it was done. An ongoing mystery.
Then, last week, I purchased on a whim a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread, the kind of raisin bread I recall with pleasure from my childhood, what my mother would have called "gooshy bread" in a bright red plastic bag. This raisin toast was a rare treat in our household - it probably cost more, delivered less nutrition, and almost certainly was eaten up faster, something my frugal mother would only occasionally allow.
I got out the butter, dropped a couple of slices in the most recent of our long line of toasters, set it to a medium heat, and up popped perfectly toasted bread, nicely browned but not burned. For once, my toaster performed perfectly. Hallelujah!
And, finally, the penny dropped with me about toast - it's not the toasters, it's the bread! I don't normally buy national brand breads. Most of the toast I make is from leftover "artisan" bread that we had with dinner the night before, breads that no mainstream toaster is designed to toast. All along, I've been blaming the toasters when all I had to do is give them gooshy bread and they would have toasted like a champ!
Now, if you are a toaster engineer out there who happens to be reading this, would you please design a toaster that loves hearty, dense, handmade breads? I'd be your first customer.