The Perfect Breakfast for Troubled Times
It's probably been at least two decades since I've eaten a slice of cinnamon-sugar toast, but if I don't have one before nightfall, I’m going to implode. Think about the last time you had a warm piece of cinnamon toast laid out on a plate in front of you—or, make it two. There is no restraint expected in toast. You were OK then, weren’t you? OK enough to be in useful proximity to bread, butter, cinnamon, sugar, and the equipment to brown, melt, and meld it all. You were probably at home, either your own or that of a person who gave a warm damn about you. Cinnamon toast is not generally a restaurant dish. (It should be.)
Think about the last time you were OK—really OK. Absent the stresses of an impending election, the wrath of nature, random attacks in public places, other people’s idealized Pinterest existences. Has it been a while? Maybe cinnamon-sugar toast could get you back there again, just for a minute, to the safe place.
You shouldn’t Instagram it when it happens, or document it in any way, or try to get the least bit artisanal or falutin. And for the sake of all that is good and right and sane—you should not follow a recipe. I stumbled upon an actual cinnamon toast recipe online, complete with multiple photographs and pronouncements of “right” and “wrong” ways to make it, and I marched across the room to unplug my router. Perfection—or at least the worry of achieving it—has no place in the same universe as cinnamon toast. Only innocence and pleasure do—your own, and no one else’s.
OK, you can in theory make cinnamon toast for someone else and you will likely feel compelled to do so once you reacquaint yourself with the generous, soothing grit that crunches so pleasingly against your molars, sands down the edges of your worry, slips your psyche into footie pajamas, and plunks it down in front of Saturday morning cartoons. No school, no commute, no bills, no debates—nothing but sweet, crunch, melt, and bliss. You’ll want to make the world a plate and furnish it with toast, but just for a moment, resist the urge. It’s OK to be selfish every once in a while, put your own butter, sugar, and cinnamon on before helping others.
And really, that’s all there is to it. Toast some bread in whatever manner pleases you. Could be in a toaster or toaster oven, under a broiler, or in a skillet. The bread, too, is up to you. I personally would opt for a squishy white slice rather than something artfully, craftily baked, but that’s my truth. I do not presume to know yours. Butter is mine, too—from a cow, with salt—but perhaps in the calm of your storm, there is room for disbelief about butter. I would recommend that you mix your sugar and cinnamon together before liberally applying it to the drenched or slathered slice, but not doing so will in no way impede your pleasure.
Make a slice of cinnamon-sugar toast for yourself. Then another if the toast-receptor nodes of your soul deem it necessary. Build a raft of cinnamon toast and let it buoy you away to a simpler time. All the stresses of the day will still be here when you return, but at least for now you have toast, and some days that’s the most that we can hope for.