The Toaster

We have moved out of our house and our things have left in a big truck headed for Cuba but not without some interesting issues along the way.  One of which, I would like to share here as maybe it could be symbolic of my future life in Cuba!

Anyone who is British or has visited a British home or spent any time living in the UK knows the importance of the toaster and the kettle as the most humble but most valued of kitchen appliances.  We are brought up on TOAST ……… Marmite toast, beans on toast, egg on toast, honey toast, toasted sandwiches, toast can be for breakfast, supper or just whenever you feel like filling up.  Toast can be beautiful wholewheat toast with smoked salmon, toasted bagels with cream cheese, toast soldiers to dip into your boiled egg, or just plain white sliced toast soaked in melted butter ………. and they all can be equally delicious depending on your mood.

As a nation we are not so obsessed with having huge fridges, enormous gas fired barbecues and ridiculously extravagant domestic appliances that after a few days get forgotten about.  But we always have a toaster and a kettle in every kitchen.

Now that I remember there was even a hit in the eighties by that popster Paul Young when he was still singing with Streetband called Toast ……… everybody was humming it.  (I have shared the lyrics at the bottom of this post for your amusement).   So you see our affection for toast reaches quite tragic levels that others really should not mock.  Toast crosses all regional and class boundaries and in school common rooms is almost like currency, or in mine it was!

Anyway, not to put too finer point on it, the toaster is as important to a Brit as the comal is for the tortillas of Guatemala.  I don´t think anybody would make a fuss about a Guatemalan wanting to import their comal into Cuba but I suppose it doesn’t have a tiny electrical element which apparently is not allowed.  However I think I can bring my hairdryer so not quite sure about the logic.  Rules are rules I suppose.

Anyway my poor husband has learnt the importance of toast to his wife over the last few years and now we even have toast with our desayuno chapin (typical Guatemalan breakfast) that my husband always makes for us on Saturday mornings.  I now do not miss HP sauce but have chili sauce on my breakfast, something a few years ago I would have found impossible to contemplate.  So I don’t see myself as someone rigid and inflexible but TOAST is TOAST!

When we visited our future house in Cuba there was no grill and no toaster and we were reduced to microwaving Bimbo style bread until it become like a rock.  The two women in the kitchen urged me to bring a toaster and anything else similar.  So on my list of essentials was my toaster and my little oven/grill.  Anyway a few days ago we were told absolutely not to even contemplate bringing anything like that.  I have to admit I took the news badly, there are many things I am willing to give up ………. potatoes, lemons, avocados, mangos, grapes and whatever else, as usually it is liberating to discover other alternatives and expand your gastronomic horizons.  However TOAST is TOAST!

toaster, UK, England, British, Paul Young, Streetband, marmite, smoked salmon, Cuba, customs, capitalism, humble
The Offending item - my humble toaster.

Needless to say my concern about not having my, soon to be abandoned, toaster (pictured here) seems to have incited what I can only describe as thinly disguised prejudice.  Me and my humble toaster have become a symbol of extravagant capitalism rather than a simple cultural reference point.  We have been told that the Cubans have lived for 50 years without toasters and we should use our contacts in the diplomatic world to acquire our toaster in Cuba as though it is diamonds or a Rolls Royce that I am hankering after.

So once again I feel difficult and my poor husband has been fighting nobly for my right to have TOAST but now I have been made to feel like the Princess of the Toaster ……. it could be the next Harry Potter sequel.  I bet JK Rowling likes toast no matter how many millions she has made.

Toast by Streetband.

Morning all. I’d like to tell you about when I was a young boy. I must have been three or four months old at the time. I didn’t really know what I wanted, and if I did, I wouldn’t have been able to tell anybody, ‘cos all I could do was gurgle. So I sat there in me highchair, thinking one day, looking at me tray and thinking what I’d give for a meal on there. So I started looking round to see what I could have. I was rubbing me eggy soldier in me head, trying to think, and then I looked in the corner and there’s a little breadbin with its mouth open, just staring at me, like. And then I looked in and I saw bread.

I thought, oh yeah, I’ll have toast,
A little piece of toast.

Well, then I started getting older,
I hated this, I hated that,
Expensive state was ludicrous
And cafes couldn’t cater for the finer things in life:
The upper crust was not for me,
I could tell that.
So I’d go back home,
Switch the kitchen light on,
Put the grill on,
Slip a slice under

And have toast,
A little piece of toast.

‘Cos there’s so much to choose from.
There’s brown bread, white bread,
All sorts of wholemeal bread;
It comes in funny packages
With writing on the side,
But it doesn’t matter which one you have
‘Cos when you cut the crusts off,
Have it with marmalade
Or butter, cheese, tomatoes, beans,
Or chocolate if you’re strange,
It doesn’t really matter.

Oh no, it all goes with toast,
Just toast.

I’m gonna think about it some…

That’s toast, mmm yeah,
Just toast,
That’s toast,
Just toast.

Well I go down the supermarket
With me basket in me hand,
I’m walking from one counter to another
Trying to find the bread stall,
But I can’t find it anywhere
And then I bump into a mother
With a baby in a basket
And she says

“Oh look, you’ve started him off again,
I come down here for a little bit of peace and quiet
To get some bread to go home to make toast,
Just toast,
I like toast”
Yeah, but I don’t half like toast.

OK, scrape that toast, boys.

That’s toast,
Yeah, just toast.


I can’t think about it any more. I’ve got to go and have some, it’s no good. Here listen, I’m getting a bit browned off standing here. Me too. Shall we go and have some toast? Good idea. Why not? OK. I’ve got the grill on. Got any brown bread? Yeah! Have you got wholemeal bread? Wheatmeal bread? All sorts of toast. Let’s go………

(They proceed to make toast, accompanied by various kitchen noises.)