I just had for lunch a toasted ham sandwich. It was delicious. What made it even nicer was the detritus of some earlier sandwich that attached itself to the outside of the bread. Hmm wonderful. Lunchtime bliss.
I like mine with white bread, the sort of terrible and tasteless white bread that if you roll into a ball it doesn’t crumble but squishes together like a white paste. More food value in its wrapping. Probably. But when you stick a bit of ham between two slices the inside of the bread sort of liquidises and adds to the texture. Brown bread just doesn’t do the same job. White bread is toastie bread, the way it merges and joins together in communion with your filling.
I remember the first time I came across toasties was in my uncle’s bar in Omagh. The Hogshead served them, ham, cheese or ham and cheese. Simple. A drop of Worcester Sauce too if you wanted it. I was only about four at the time but I remember the daytime drinkers getting a toastie with their beer or stout. It looked tasty and it was tasty. Mmmm.
My mother-in-law Patsy loves to have one with a glass of Irish Whiskey. Angela loves a toastie and makes a tasty one herself, sometimes for me too if I’m good. In fact, so big a fan of toasties were we that we got a yellow one for a wedding present. A lovely fancy Breville jobbie, it busted after a while and was replaced by one costing a fiver from Tesco.
You can wipe your toastie maker down but for me, like an archaeologist digging up some oul bones, I love that taste of cheese cooked a couple of times over that clings to your latest creation. Wherever it lurks, it manages to affix itself to the next sandwich. How could you not like that?
My sister Mary was the first in our house to get one and we tried all sorts of recipes. Mars and apple was one. Stinking. At Queen’s we used to crack an egg onto the bread and have an egg toastie. Filling and functional for beer purposes and late night snacking.
May not be the trendiest kitchen gadget on the market, and overheated cheese and tomato toasted sandwich has stripped many’s the layer of skin from the roof of my mouth. But they’re still the business. I love the wee sharp corner bits, sometimes you find a wee bit of filling fused in the corner. When the dog wants a bit, I’d nearly rather she had the part with the filling than the corner. I love the way the bread fuses and seals – white bread does it the best. The seal round the sides are a treat too, the little beards of cheese hangin’ out there to be nibbled off.
Nowadays every fancy lunch joint has a panini for sale. But all hail its predecessor, the toastie maker.
Hungry? You know what to do.