toast Herb

Nothing beats buttery toast made with white bread, according to columnist Herb Benham.

Tough choice but not tough: White bread or wheat?

We are dutiful. We are responsible. We have trained ourselves to buy the wheatiest, sproutiest, life-extendiest bread on the planet so normally this choice is no choice.

However, I’m starting to feel like for the people who find themselves in their golden, golden years that they've beaten the odds. You won. You’ve reached the top of the mountain and so why not enjoy the ride down.

Eat bacon, have double cream cheese for breakfast, smoke cigars and never be without a pan of Hodel’s cinnamon rolls in your freezer.

It’s possible we’ve laid a whole wheat base. The sort of foundation that would show up favorably in an autopsy. Assuming this is true, celebrate.

Start with a loaf of white bread. I did recently and life, which is good, just got better.

***

Take a stroll down White Bread Memory Lane. For many people, it was Wonder Bread. Wonder Bread was a white bread wonder.

My mom wouldn’t buy Wonder Bread because I think she thought we were better than that. We weren’t; if anything we aspired to Wonder Bread. We couldn’t buy a loaf ourselves because that’s something adults did and you almost had to have a license to do so.

Our version of Wonder Bread was Pepperidge Farm white bread, which was the upscale cousin to Wonder Bread with a fancier name.

Grandmother Sidenberg had Pepperidge Farm in her stainless steel bread box. It wasn’t so much housed there as it was displayed with all of its merchandiseable aplomb.

Years later, Trader Joe’s sold an outstanding loaf of white bread. It was heavy in a way that you didn’t think white bread could be. The loaf had heft as well as girth and enjoyed a brief renaissance before being elbowed from our consciousness by the whole wheat and gluten-free revolution.

A few days ago, I was tantalized, electrified and galvanized by a large display of Dave’s Killer Bread. If I had been looking for nutritional reassurance, and I wasn’t, I would have been mollified to read the front of the wrapper that said the bread had five super grains — quinoa, spelt, rye, millet and barley —  had no bleached flour and was a “soft and smooth artisan-style loaf."

Under normal circumstances, I might have looked, sighed and moved on, wondering how much health was too much health.

What stopped me was this: “White bread done right.”

I was a goner. I was a buyer. I was soon to be a white bread eater.

White bread is not just about toast because you can make a powerful argument for a ham sandwich with Swiss cheese on white bread, with a spicy mustard and Duke’s Mayonnaise. Sequoia Sandwich makes a great version of this.

However, in its culinary soul, white bread is all about toast. The best toast you’ve ever had in your life or going to have. White bread toast is the perfect delivery vehicle for sweet butter, honey and grape jelly.

I bought two loaves and although we had a freezer full of bread and we didn’t need more bread, my thinking is that you can never have too much even if you have to put a loaf in the freezer and the second one on top of the fridge.

The next morning I put two slices into the toaster — the heel and the outermost piece inside the heel. White bread toasts quickly so don’t use the toasting period to take out the recycling.

Crisp and soft, whatever its consistency, white bread toast opens its embrace to both butter and honey. I thought I put both of them on but they disappeared so let’s put on some more so that we’re double covered.

It wasn’t just good, it was toothsome. So toothsome that I opened up the freezer and put two more slices in the toaster. In that moment, I felt communion with Grandmother Sidenberg, the same sort Fred Sanford might have had with Elizabeth.

“Grandmother, I’m coming to join you. I’ll pick up a loaf of Pepperidge Farm or Dave’s Killer bread. We can catch up and eat up.”

Herb Benham is a columnist for the Bakersfield Californian and can be reached at hbenham@bakersfield.com or (661) 395-7279.

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