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An Ode to Toast

I‘ve failed you. I’m only three posts in on this brave new world and I’ve already dropped the ball; I made a fleeting mention of something too ridiculous not to share and hoped you wouldn’t notice.

A certain literal toast poem. Published in the Spring 2011 volume of one of my alma mater’s literary journals, it was my first time seeing my own poetry in print, though I say “poetry” very loosely because:

  1. I’ve always been a prose person and I don’t think the phase I went through in middle school where I listened to heavy, repetitive guitar riffs on loop and forced rhymes about crows and storm clouds counts for anything.
  2. I rhymed “baguette” with “couchette“. This is either very revealing about my sense of humor or my mindset during college (Hmmm… it’s 3am, I wonder what I should do… write a poem about BREAD! I can sleep when I’m dead ha-HA!)
  3. The Bard is rolling his eyes so hard in his grave he can see the inside of his brilliant, brilliant skull. I’m so. sorry. Bill Shakes. In a moment of weakness and hunger, I had to do it–but yours will always be first in everyone’s affections.

It’s taken me the better part of, well, my entire life to get to a place now where I’m only about 65% uncomfortable with sharing my more formal creative writing projects–I’ve soothed the impulsive wrinkling of my nose, the hand-wringing, and the whole “You’re saying good things but I’m reacting like I just stepped in a deceptively shallow pool of half-melted city snow” thing. It’s a work in progress.

Real talk, though: I love toast. That much is not a question. Spread with peanut butter, glossed over with Nutella, drizzled with honey, spears of it soaking up runny egg yolks–I love it all. It’s the tabula rasa of the culinary world, as spartan or extravagant as your wildest imaginations. Heck, you can even make a bear out of it (I almost bought one of these molds in Japan but I didn’t–don’t worry, I’m kicking myself every day because of that lapse in what would have been awesome judgement). My personal favourite toast treatment is one perfectly ripe avocado, smashed (but still a little chunky), dressed with a fried egg and a little shower of black pepper and sea salt–the cool avocado being slowly warmed by the toast and the egg, the balance of creamy and crunch… is this what enlightenment tastes like?

Have a wonderful weekend!

An Ode to Toast
By Julia Chen (2011)

Shall I compare thee to a French baguette?
No–thou art more crunchy and modest,

I feel a bliss which warms my heart’s couchette
when I see your crispy crust, the purest.
Shall I lather you with marmalade sweet?
Or pair you with a cup of Earl Grey?

Your familiar taste is a cozy retreat,
a slice of home that keeps hunger at bay.
I adore your versatility, with cinnamon and butter,
charm unequaled by sourdough or dinner roll,
mon amour, O! How my heart doth flutter,
my breakfast of choice beyond earthly control.

If only more appreciative eyes could see
your bastion of carbohydrate complexity.

P.S. I’d love to hear about your favourite takes on toast; I can’t guarantee that I won’t pilfer an idea (or three) to put into my breakfast rotation.

[Featured image photographed by Carey Nishi, as seen on Food52]

Filed under: Musings, Writing

About the Author

Posted by

Give me a curtain call, a flaky pastry, and put me on the next flight to Somewhere, Anywhere and I couldn't be happier. Heyo! I'm Julia, green tea-drinking extraordinaire and avid muser based in the United States, but always following my nose and my taste buds to the next destination.


  1. Hey, hey, poetry is poetry, sunshine. And, anyway, we can’t all be Billy Shakes. The world would actually be pretty terrifying if we were, honestly.

    That would have been awesome judgement!! If only because I’d get photos of bear toast all the time and it would probably have never failed to brighten the day. I don’t know that I’ve ever had particularly exciting toast? (My typo there was ‘excited toast’ – were it the bear, maybe I’d understand, but speaking about regular toast, I don’t know.) Peanut butter’s the fixture. Substituting for a biscuit happens often enough (an egg and sausage concoction that dad throws together), but exciting new things? Hm.

    Okay, but anyway. ‘More crunchy and modest,’ ‘a cozy retreat, a slice of home,’ and, yes, of course, ‘carbohydrate complexity.’ Incredible. (Write all your poetry about toast. Make a book of toast poetry and be the envy of all your friends. Writers and foodies, alike.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Next time! Next time I’ll be sure to set aside a suitcase expressly for novelty items (and chopsticks–gosh I saw the most beautiful chopsticks).

      BISCUITS. I still dream about the ones we had in Tennessee during our weekend at Nationals for fencing. Buttery steam, little pots of honey and blueberry preserves. We demolished the plate in no time at all–our server looked a little shocked.

      If nothing else works out, I’ll just be a recluse who sits in the corner of a bakery all day thinking up material. It’s a niche market, for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. One word for your writing style: delicious. (Also: ‘demands to be savored.’ Also, chatty and warm and lyrical and articulate. But of course, that’s more than one word~) 🙂

    I myself can make a meal out of two big toasted slices of sourdough and Nova lox, or sometimes plain ‘ol white Italian bread + butter + a little cinnamon for a midnight snack. Your avocado and egg idea (as well as this entire blog post) has set my bread-loving heart all aflutter and I can’t wait to try it (well, after Passover of course!) ❤


    • There are far too many kind words in that first sentence alone–give a lady some breathing room to process these things, gosh! It’s been tricky trying to strike the right tone with this blog: do I want to be eloquent or a little more chatty and humorous? Obviously I’m not going to write the same way here as I would if I were to write a more formal, say, short story or something, but it’s still my voice and there’ll be overlaps?

      Don’t tell me you’ve never tried the avocado + egg thing because YOU ARE IN FOR A TREAT! (Happy Passover!)


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