Toast masters


Today I was working in an office which has a funky coffee bar and a kitchen-area with a microwave and a toaster. All offices should be like this. Many useful discussions are held whilst waiting for the kettle to boil, the microwave to ping or the toaster to pop.

After a smoke alarm incident, someone stuck a piece of paper to the wall with full instructions on use of the toaster. The instructions are over 250 words long. Using a toaster is quite a complex skill.

The British are the only people in the world who really know how to use a toaster. We have been able to learn our toasting skills from an early age. Britain is the only country in the world where almost every home has a toaster (Australia and New Zealand are close behind – but that is because all of their civilized habits like cricket, driving on the left and making toast are imported from the UK).

By the age of 18, British children are so skilled at toasting that they can cook entire meals using a two-slot Morphy Richards.

If you stay in a decent hotel anywhere in the world, you may find a toaster near the breakfast buffet. You will also find a small queue of bemused non-British guests trying to work out how to use it. You will also find that toasters in hotels very rarely work properly because they have been abused by guests trying to force entire baguettes or bowls of muesli into the slot or on to the conveyor belt.

All this happens because 423 years ago, someone realised that they needed something to put their marmalade on.

PS. The British skill at toasting is only matched by the Norwegian skill at waffle making. In a Norwegian hotel at breakfast you will find a small queue of British tourists trying to pour excessive amounts of batter into a sticky and smoky waffle iron and then opening it too early and finding their waffle is just a warm goo. The Norwegians arrive earlier, pour in just half a cupful of batter, wander off to get a cup of coffee and return to lift out a crisp waffle to go with their cloudberry jam (they never discovered marmalade, but they found North Sea oil instead).

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