I Traded Carbs for One Exquisite Piece of Toast

published May 7, 2015
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(Image credit: Hali Bey Ramdene)

At first I thought I should have been more public about my decision to eat fewer carbs. That way when I skipped dessert, passed on an appetizer, or went with a salad, there’d be fewer questions about why.

But what I should have been telling people is I no longer felt the need to have a roll from the bread basket or even a cookie after lunch because every morning, I wake up with a smile on my face knowing I am only moments away from eating a single slice of buttered toast that is better than it all.

I gave up those lesser carbs for one single slice of toast a day. Prior to this new way of eating you could have said my motto in life was no bread left behind. It seems you can either be the person that dives into the breadbasket with no remorse or you’re the person that exhibits iron resolve. I’m pretty sure you can guess which type of person I was.

But even with all the carbs — and when I say carbs, I’m talking about starchy, flour-filled foods of the cookie, bread, and pasta persuasion — toast has always been my favorite. I’ve never been terribly particular about it. I’d eat everything from the stack of triangles that come with diner omelets — the butter haphazardly slathered on and a caddy of jams and jellies plopped into the center of the table — to the thick-cut, skillet-toasted, peanut butter-topped toast I ate growing up.

All good toast. But when you get only one chance a day for greatness, good toast doesn’t cut it. This search for great toast became a quest; an all-out exploration of what exceptional toast meant to me.

For a while I ate sprouted bread. If virtue ever had a flavor, this toast was it. I’m not going to go any further into that experience aside from saying I opened the door and closed it very quickly. I drizzled bread with olive oil, spread apple butter over English muffins, and schmeared on cream cheese, but never had the feeling that I was eating the one toast that really felt worth it.

At some point I realized the whole scheme of fitting toast into my life was going to be an acceptance of quality over quantity. My “this-fits-just-right moment” came in the form of the tangiest loaf of sourdough bread. It was a Saturday morning in May and I was rounding towards the end of the farmers market where all the bread stalls and delicious pastry tables are lined up in a row, clearly as a test of human fortitude. I was still deep in Toast Quest 2014 when I wandered over to a table that had quite a few people around it. It was a bakery I hadn’t heard of before and they were selling sourdough, which is pretty difficult to find where I live.

When I asked about their sourdough I received a very concise reply: “Our mother is over 100 years old.” Sold. “I will have every loaf you have left,” is what I wanted to say, but I actually only bought one little boule.

The next morning I sliced the bread just thick enough and toasted it in the oven until it was deep golden brown. I slathered on butter and sprinkled it with salt. One bite and I knew I had found it: a great toast. Unsurprisingly, the answer lay in simplicity; obvious in retrospect, but an answer easily lost when you’re surrounded by the noise of choice.

Now the one exquisite piece of toast I have in the morning is my most treasured moment of the day. I rush towards it, even in sleep, knowing that mornings promise a few moments with the one toast to rule them all.