JOQ with Jeremy and Thomas

JOQ with Jeremy and Thomas

BrettScott.jpgJOQ Contributor Brett Scott’s thoughts on the British Toaster Rack:

I think the British toast rack is the epitome of pointless and counterproductive control. Why bother to stoically present toast in a rack when you can just ambush it with butter as it pops out of toaster. Strangely enough though, I do know of British people who are uncomfortable with hot melted butter flows. I guess it makes sense that the person who likes to trap toast in a rack would also like the controlled certainty of cold hard butter.

British Toast Racks keep toast COLD

Thomas Thwaites’ The Toaster Project, has elements very much in common with the artisans at the Mezimbite Forest Centre in Mozambique:

Like the Mezimbite artisans, Thomas sourced original materials to make his product. The Mezimbite artisans, just like Thomas with his toaster, make things from scratch:

They harvest noble hardwood trees, in order to craft their products, which include fine furniture and jewelry for sale. Meanwhile, Thomas has sourced rocks, sludge and iron ore to make the plastic mould and iron framework of his toaster.

However, while there are similarities with the Mezimbite artisans, there are also some differences:

  • The artisans at Mezimbite make exquisite, aesthetically pleasing, and artistically inspired cabinets, chairs, tables, salad bowls and jewelry. The aesthetics of Thomas’ finished product however, cannot be described accurately within the decent language constraints of our editorial guidelines.
  • The Mezimbite artisans, as part of a sustainable forest community, are very cost and materials conscious: There is no waste of resources, and the artisans produce high quality, low cost products which are sold at a fair trade value. Thomas’ toaster however, cost about 250 times the price of what a normal toaster would cost – the kind you and I would buy at a retail outlet.
  • The sustainable culture of Mezimbite is infused into its long lasting and durable products. The furniture that the artisans make lasts not only a lifetime but also many generations. Meantime, Thomas’ toaster functioned for about 2 seconds before it began to self-destruct.
  • The Mezimbite artisans have little formal education – most never even completed high school. Thomas however, was educated at the very prestigious Royal College of Art.

Indian Bowl to keep parathas HOT

In June of this year, the Mezimbite team will shoot a short documentary in Mozambique, in which we shall interview these remarkable artisans who undergo a rigorous five-year apprenticeship as carpenters and journeymen.

Meantime, we are conducting an interview with a fellow who has built a ghastly contraption that works for only 2 seconds, before it self-destructs.

In our humility, we take what we can get over here at the Mezimbite Magazine.

Once we get started on asking Thomas about The Toaster Project, he will likely tell us all about it in great detail, with great enthusiasm.


Hot Paratha Expert Abdul Ajania

However, the subject Thomas is avoiding, the subject he would prefer you readers not to know about, is toast itself, particularly when it comes to British people like Thomas.

I am sure he would not like you to know about the ritual of eating toast in the UK, particularly as it relates to restaurants and teashops and hotels where it is served.

As editor of this magazine however, I am obliged to maintain a level of transparency and journalistic integrity. We need to address the matter of toast, before we move on to his toaster:

Like Thomas, I spent my school years in the UK. Unlike Thomas, I am Indian and he is English. So I have cultural perspective on British toast from my old dad who used to say, when we stayed in an English bed and breakfast on holiday in Dorset on the south coast of England, while we ate a British breakfast:

“I tell you these Britishers:

“I mean to say they invent the tea cozy to keep the tea nice and hot, and then they invent the toast rack to keep the toast nice and cold ? Now what kind of people these are? When you take a piping hot paratha out of the tandoori oven, you wrap it in a tea towel and put it in a wooden bowl with a fit lid, isn’t it? That way paratha it stays nice and warm, no? Any Indian knows that. But these Britishers they invent a open air toast rack, so toast, it can be becoming cold as fast as possible.

“Goodness gracious, isn’t it?”

Yes. It is. My old dad was right. In fact, cold toast is a British tradition.

I corroborated this very fact with a British gentleman who serves on our Editorial Panel: Harvard Professor Jeremy Geidt. Jeremy probably has as much to say about cold toast, as Thomas has to say about his toaster.

The toast rack, insists Jeremy, is the enemy of the British people.

Jeremy is an actor at the American Repertory Theatre (ART). He was trained at the Old Vic Theatre School in London, played Hamlet with Richard Burton in Iceland; came to America in the 1960’s and helped found the Yale Rep where he taught Meryl Streep, Sigourney Weaver and Henry Winkler.

He then went on to help found the ART. Allan Schwarz, the founder of Mezimbite, and a South African, was delighted to learn that Jeremy helped dissident “banned” playwrights such as Athol Fugard stage plays at Yale Rep during the Apartheid years.

As a Brit, Jeremy was relentlessly teased by American playwright David Mamet, a former writer-in-residence at the ART, about the “cold-toast districts” in London. Unctuous, because Jeremy’s wife of near 50 years, Jan, is a collector of fine antique toast racks.

As Mamet gleefully writes:

“We always refer to London as the cold-toast district. Greg was over in London directing a play of mine. He’d been there for some weeks. I came over, and we had breakfast. We met in the restaurant of the hotel, and I spied on the menu ‘Hot Buttered Toast’.

“Let’s order it,” I suggested merrily, but he did not laugh when the toast arrived, cold as earth, limp, and sodden.”

Just One Question

Jeremy, do you have any elder wisdom to share with Thomas?

Response from Jeremy


Harvard Prof. Jeremy Geidt

“Thomas my dear, as a fellow Brit let me assure you that the British toast rack, and not the toaster, should be your number one priority. It is the toast rack that is the enemy of the British people. John Kenneth Galbraith, one of our greatest benefactors here at the American Repertory Theatre used to say to me:

‘Jeremy my friend, let the toast rack never come between us – especially at breakfast’. Ambassador Galbraith put it delicately and diplomatically.

And then there was the much more forthright but sincere statement from George W. Bush, our former President here in America who used to say on behalf of all us British people: ‘A rack is our enemy’.

No truer words have ever been spoken. The Cold War may well be over, but, thanks to the British toast rack, the Cold Toast War continues to place the Special Relationship between Britain and America in a jam. So put your most dubious and diminishing talents to better use Thomas, and invent a toast rack for the British people that will actually keep our beloved morning toast warm.

So I can have hot-buttered toast in London with Mamet – better still, with Dundee marmalade.

“On a more serious note Thomas, your work reminded me of something from the works of Shakespeare. It is one of his most beloved characters, Henry Percy (Hotspur), who says in that glorious monologue as he kneels before his king, that begins: ‘My liege, I did deny no prisoners.’ Towards the end, as he talks about his time on the battlefield, he laments:

“’And it was a great pity, so it was,

This villainous saltpeter should be digged

Out of the bowels of the harmless earth..’

“What Shakespeare’s Hotspur is referring to here has to do with science and technology:

“Hotspur is lamenting the mining of saltpeter (potassium nitrate), which is an essential ingredient in the making of gunpowder and hence in the emergence of cannon warfare. He is concerned about this advance in technology because it threatens the code of honour of chivalry. You see, Hotspur is an old school nobleman, trained in swordsmanship but most importantly, trained in restraint and mercy when facing his opponent.

A time in history when casualties of war were kept to a minimum and lives were spared with grace and even forgiveness. Because people saw their enemy face-to-face, human-being-to-human-being, eye-to-eye … they were not impersonal targets on a canon swivel, or digital images on a computer screen. They were human beings, in the flesh.

“Now, things are different for Hotspur: The recent discovery of gunpowder (which the Chinese had mastered centuries before), combined with the mining of saltpeter, meant that any old fool on the mercenary payroll could light a match to a cannon and blast a castle wall to rubble. And become a hero for doing so. The technology of warfare had just become accessible as a mass consumer product, where chivalry was no longer a necessary qualification. Money was.

It would be like an actor who knew not a word of Shakespeare, making a fortune as a reality television star. This was no longer the age of Lawrence Olivier. Enter now, the age of Kim Kardashian. Henry VIII, when fighting France in 1544 AD, was short of gunpowder. But his coffers were full of gold, and so he bought sacks of gunpowder from mercenary Antwerp merchants and won the war. Gold won his war for him, not chivalry. Chivalry was suddenly quaint. And the mighty and noble Hotspur became rapidly out-dated and redundant.

The movie business has worked very assiduously to discourage you and other intelligent, discerning people. They have worked hard to get rid of you because you don’t go then and buy toys and games.

— Meryl Streep

“To me, Hotspur is not unlike the artisans at Mezimbite Forest Centre:

“They believe and practice a certain code, a certain way of life, that emphasizes restraint and respect as character qualities. They live according to the rhythms and cycles of nature, staying close to values that may seem quaint and outdated in our modern mechanized world. But in that quaintness lays their truth and treasure. They undergo a rigorous and thorough apprenticeship, which is why they can take such pride in their craftsmanship.

Did you know that the young Leonardo spent a full two years learning to grind and mix pigments and make paint when he apprenticed with Verrocchio? He was not permitted to put brush to canvas until he learned these elements. That is the ethic of an artisan. Now it’s all Damien Hirst and his merry mob of manipulative marketing agents.

When I taught at the Old Vic Theatre School in London, I encouraged my students to learn to fence, to sketch, to draw, to stitch and mend costumes, to hammer and saw wood and build the stage scaffolding, to study paintings and history and language, before they ever set a single foot upon the stage and spoke a single line. That is what players did in Shakespeare’s day at The Globe. They were artisans.

Daniel Day-Lewis actually wanted to be an artisan: He applied for a five-year Mezimbite-type artisan apprenticeship to learn to be a carpenter, journeyman and master cabinet maker. But he was rejected and so he came to the Old Vic instead. Fortunately, he brought the artisan ethic with him. He learned that from his dad Cecil, I imagine – a brilliant poet.

The big movie business in which Daniel and Meryl find themselves, is a cluttered consumer cacophony of phony tie-ins with plastic toxic toys and deafening digital arcade games. Authentic actors who are dedicated artisans and their audiences who love stagecraft, have increasingly become outliers and outcasts because Hollywood has become a load of old cobblers – which is precisely why Daniel decided to take off and learn how to make shoes.

This past Sunday, Meryl said to Morley on 60 Minutes:

“That’s called the narrowing of the audience. The movie business has worked very assiduously to discourage you and other intelligent, discerning people from the… movie theater. They have worked hard to get rid of you because you don’t go then and buy toys and games.”

Artisan and artist have become quaint words in our day.

And the mass consumer products and the very commercialism of our modern culture are, like gunpowder in Hotspur’s day, now available abundantly. Consumerism has run away with itself. It has become an unrestrained and demoralizing force. And the endangered species in this new equation, is our very soul.

Just One Question

Thomas, how does The Toaster Project relate to Hotspur’s concern about new technologies in Shakespeare’s play Henry IV, Part I?

Response from Thomas


Thomas Thwaites & piece of toaster

Jeremy and Karim:

That is certainly the most amusing pre-amble to a toast related question I have ever had the pleasure and misfortune to read!

For I now feel compelled to point out that finer minds than mine have already devoted themselves to solving the cold toast problem, and have beaten it, multiple times over the past hundred years.

The most recent cold toast solution is described in US Patent Number 6523458 was awarded in 2003 for a ‘Portable Toast Warmer Apparatus’, described as consisting of two parts, the upper part (looking much like the hated toast rack), comprising ‘a means for receiving the transmitted electromagnetic energy so that foodstuff slices may be warmed with the plurality of heaters mounted on the walls of the upper part’.

And just in case the toast should be needed to be kept warm for a very long time, or due to some global catastrophe the mains electrical grid should fail… ‘The upper part of the portable toast warmer also comprises a battery so that the toasted foodstuff slices may continue to be heated when the upper part is decoupled from the lower part, so that the upper part containing the toasted foodstuff slices may be conveniently delivered to any desired location such as a dining room table’.

Hotspur, who actually is a soldier, must also be a pragmatist – he knows there is no way of re-burying the Saltpeter, just as we know there is tragically no way of un-inventing the toast rack.

So, there you go, toasted foodstuff slices, delivered hot to any desired location! The reason I cite this patent in such detail, is I find it comical (in a tragic kind of way) that such resources should be proposed to be thrown at something so trivial (yes, I said it) as cold toast.

Especially when the solution was already being articulated by Karim’s dad I don’t know how many years ago.

So, rather than (re)invent another technological cold toast solution, I choose rather to un-invent the toast rack, and promote some ancient wisdom from the Far East, i.e. wrapping the toast in a tea towel.

But like Hotspur, I know that in reality, you can’t un-invent something. And I’m no scholar of Shakespeare (in fact seeing your question Jeremy immediately took me back to that fearful moment of ‘you may turn over your papers now’, and a psychosomatic aching wrist from being a teenager (after a three hour exam)), but I have googled it, and find that Hotspur is actually making fun of the lamentations of a foppish ‘popinjay’ messenger, who claims that ‘but for these vile guns, he would himself have been a soldier’.

I put forward that Hotspur, who actually is a soldier, must also be a pragmatist – he surely knows there is no way of re-burying the Saltpeter, just as we know there is tragically no way of un-inventing the toast rack.

But yes, gun powder technology arrives and makes the technology of warfare a mass consumer product, and killing a knight becomes as easy as killing a peasant – it levels the battlefield so to speak. But perhaps this isn’t necessarily such a bad thing, because although the chivalrous code of honor would’ve applied to some. it wasn’t exactly egalitarian. And while there were very noble knights, there were doubtless other knights who ruled their vassals with impunity and were total bastards, who could do with a bit of leveling.

Perhaps the artisans at Mezimbite would like to expand their range in to objects that are more often thought of as produced en-masse. An artisan toaster? I think that could work.

So I suppose I’m in favour of any mass consumer technology that enables the masses to have or do something previously reserved for an elite, and I don’t think this necessarily debases culture. Of course the invention of the electric toaster was one small enabling factor in the long list that meant even those without a butler were able to easily prepare themselves toast. And it’s the same internet that transmits OMGs about Kim Kardashian as transmits the protests in the Arab Spring.

Surely there’s always been both the Lawrence Oliviers and Kim Kardashians, it’s just that Olivier is remembered when all his many contemporary Kardashians are long forgotten?

Mass consumer products aren’t necessarily evil, and indeed they are necessary.

One of the only things about the future we can be fairly sure of is that there are likely to be more people alive tomorrow than there are today. So in the same way that there is room for both the ‘Kim Kardashians’ and ‘Lawrence Oliviers’ in society today, there’s also room for mass consumer products and the work of the artisans of Mezimbite.

But to dismiss Hotspur’s concerns about the loss of chivalry and honor brought on by new technology as just a case of looking back with rose tinted spectacles isn’t right either. There is so much that is wrong with the incessant grinding turnover of soulless products. So I think that where the challenge lies is in somehow finding a way to infuse a respect for things in to mass consumer culture… a broader realisation that objects kind of have a soul of their own, based on where they come from, how they’re used, and where they go if and when they die.

Perhaps the artisans at Mezimbite would like to expand their range in to objects that are more often thought of as produced en-masse. An artisan toaster? I think that could work.

The Toast Museum features toasters built throughout the ages at the Toast Restaurant:

[thethe-image-slider name=”Toast Slide”]
Erik Ramirez, Photographer and Andrew Wolocatiuk, Production assistant

 International Scholars of The British Toast Rack:

Peter and Margaret Crumpton


This book discusses the history of toast – a peculiarly British way of serving bread – and illustrates over 1000 ceramic toast racks from late 18th C to present day.

The design and decoration of the toast racks manufactured by so many of the English potteries makes it a fascinating subject for collecting. Printed, painted or moulded, the decoration takes many forms but usually in the house-style of the manufacturer and the dividers, as they are known, come in numerable shapes usually pierced to allow the toast to dry.

It is hard to identify early toast racks; throughout the 19th C and 20th C most are factory marked including:

Wedgwood, Crown Devon, Royal Wilton, Carlton, Burgess & Leigh, Shorter, Beswick, Poole Pottery, Denby, Clarice Cliff and Susie Cooper.

  1. Allan02-11-2012

    In the aftermath of “a loaf of bread, a skin of wine and you beside me in the moonlight” a slice of the evening before’s on a pointed stick over the open wood fire works just fine for me … However we will rise to your challenge and design a toaster, but a toast rack … don’t be ridiculous, we only do functional, and sustainable here.

    I have no intension of wasting time and resources on a cultural monument [the toast rack] to the useless.

    Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough,
    A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse – and Thou
    Beside me singing in the Wilderness –
    And Wilderness is Paradise now…

    — The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám

  2. Kim Gardi Abelman02-13-2012

    Jeremy and Thomas, thank you for providing us much food for thought, whether that food be cold and realistic or warm and thought-provoking.

    Because you provide both: the cold reality and the thought-provoking and imaginative concepts of our world today. Mezembite is part of that world, a world to which you have contributed your thought and time. Thank you for making us think about processes in our world today, and for helping us to think out of the box, or should I say “rack”?

    I believe this is what Mezimbite is about.

  3. Jeremy02-14-2012

    I have no idea what all this cold toast discussion has to do with a forest centre in Mozambique!

    • Allan02-14-2012

      Correct me if I have misjudged the guy but didn’t Shakespeare get
      McDuff to cut down Birnham Wood to camouflage the attack on

      The military destruction of Wilderness is not a popular idea at Mezimbite……

  4. Jeremy02-14-2012

    It is true Allan, that the three witches envisioned that:

    “Macbeth shall ne’er vanquish’d be ’til
    Great Birnham wood to on high Dunsinane hill
    Shall come against him.”

    And it did, by Malcolm’s military cutting down every bough in the forest!

    But Allan my dear: Is Shakespeare even relevant to the Mezimbite Forest Centre you founded?
    Should I not be sent to “detention” like I did when I was in public school in England?

  5. Allan02-14-2012

    Dear Jeremy,

    Toast like revenge is best served cold….

    Wouldn’t dream of sending you to “detention” at the public school which invented that saying.

    “One more rant and you may have to breakfast at Mezimbite, where the coffee is steaming Ethiopia and the toast is always made fresh and hot….”.

    Kind regards from the mosquitoes!

    Oft have I heard that grief softens the mind,
    And makes it fearful and degenerate;
    Think therefore on revenge and cease to weep.

    –Henry VI, Part II, William Shakespeare

  6. Jeremy02-14-2012

    Dear Allan

    I’d love to put Mozambique on my travelogue and enjoy Ethiopian coffee at Mezimbite!

    I have not been to Africa but my wife Jan and I have lived in India near the Himalayas. Breathtaking! Or, as the kids say these days: “Awesome!”

    And speaking of “revenge on toast”:

    For your interest, you may enjoy this snippet from the “cutting room floor”:

    As a Brit, Jeremy was relentlessly teased by American playwright David Mamet, a former writer-in-residence at the ART, about the “cold-toast districts” in London. This was particularly unctuous because Jeremy’s wife of almost 50 years, Jan, is a collector of fine antique toast racks.

    Moreover, Jeremy and Jan both subsequently lived for a period near the Indian Himalayas, in the Dehra Dun hill-station, where Jeremy taught drama at The Doon School. It was in India that Jeremy finally found Enlightenment – he regularly dined on Indian flatbreads like naan, paratha and chapati, all of which were kept “hot” within a simple wooden bowl with a fitted lid.

    Like Mamet, Jeremy finally understood the frivolity and futility of the British toast rack. He became a new man. Jeremy says of this transcendent phase in his life:

    “India does that to one: it makes one realize what is truly important. It cuts to the essence. For a Westerner like me, it also brings a deep humility:

    “In the twilight years of my life, I finally understood that the British toast rack was no longer the answer. In his quiet wisdom, David Mamet had been right all along. Well, perhaps not so ‘quiet’. But the truth had been racking my brains at breakfast for all these years. I just could not face it.”

    Now, I definitely belong over in The Curmudgeon Corner! Dismiss me there forthwith..

  7. Jeremy02-14-2012

    Yes, Willie Smits who – like our dear friend Allan – is an Ashoka Fellow —

    I am sorry that we British inflicted the boarding school systems on Ghana.

    I actually remember your alumnus Mr Annan on a regular basis – I often say to my wife Jan after dinner, I say “Jan, we should have coffee anon…” and then we do.

    I agree that we should disseminate to the youth.

    Being a bit of a curmudgeon, I am probably scaring the youth demographic off!

  8. Jeremy02-14-2012

    Does everyone here know who Ashoka, the namesake of the Ashoka Fellows, was?

    And what an honour it is to be an Ashoka?

    Ashoka, like Alexander the Great, was a powerful general and king who ruled over vast lands and had killed tens of thousands of people to further his Indian Empire.

    But one day, he has a misgiving when he saw the site of all the people he had killed after a war and he fell to his knees in despair:

    What have I done? If this is a victory, what’s a defeat then?

    Is this a victory or a defeat? Is this justice or injustice? Is it gallantry or a rout? Is it valor to kill innocent children and women? Do I do it to widen the empire and for prosperity or to destroy the other’s kingdom and splendor? One has lost her husband, someone else a father, someone a child, someone an unborn infant…. What’s this debris of the corpses?

    Ashoka, (302 – 232 BC) — translated from the Sanskrit

    His nature transformed, and he became a gentle, compassionate soul – and a devoted Buddhist – who sought to bring peace and harmony to his empire.

    He had a change of heart, and he changed his motives and his habits – thus demonstrating to all of mankind that we all have this potential within us.

  9. Jeremy02-14-2012

    Well, this weathered old analog era curmudgeon is surely learning much from this bright young man in graduate school at Johns Hopkins who is undoubtedly going places!

  10. Kim Gardi Abelman02-14-2012

    Hi all

    I haven’t had time yet to peruse your very appetizing e-epistles, my apologies. I will.

    But just a suggestion: are you directing some of the constructive responses to the “comments” section of the Magazine?

    Hope so.

    Kim Abelman

  11. Karim02-14-2012

    In Defense of The Toast Rack:

    Some of you have been unfair to the poor old toast rack (my dad and me most of all!)…

    You have overlooked the fact that it has a practical use, which is to prevent the toast from getting soggy. Context is everything. Which is why we thankfully have Wikipedia:

    By maintaining air gaps between the slices, the toast rack allows steam to escape from hot toast instead of condensing into adjacent slices and making them soggy.

    However, this increased air flow can also mean that the toast becomes cold more quickly.

    Thomas Thwaites’ Toaster however, is absolutely indefensible.

  12. Kim Gardi Abelman02-14-2012

    Wow!! Allan and Jeremy in the same sentence as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs?
    I guess we can dream, right? Or perhaps aspire?

    A “toast” to you all!

  13. Simon Neggers02-15-2012

    Simon Neggers
    Communications Manager
    Brook Street
    London W1K 4HR

    At Claridge’s, we deploy the use of The British Toast Rack at breakfast serving time.

    We do not deploy the instrument at Afternoon Tea, a great tradition here at Claridge’s.

    At breakfast, hot toast emerges from a state-of-the-art custom-made toasting machine (not a conventional “pop-up” toaster machine) which we have installed in our kitchen.

    Hot toast is continually being made and then arranged within The British Toast Rack before being swiftly dispatched and served to our breakfast room clientele.

    Our staff are constantly attentive, and in the event that the toast in the The British Toast Rack should appear to cool or lose it’s crispness and freshness, the toast is immediately replenished. Our keen replenishment strategy ensures that we make use of The British Toast Rack in a manner that is conducive to a pleasant dining experience.

    • Kim Gardi Abelman02-17-2012

      Really delightful to hear that some establishments still proudly take delight in doing things the “right” way (or should I say the “British” way?). Having grown up very privileged in South Africa, I distinctly remember deliciously crisp toast-racked toast!!

  14. Natasha Tang02-15-2012

    Ha! Really interesting and funny! Have never read a JOQ-structured post like this, and it’s great to see so many thoughts and ideas brewing. Loved how you linked the joke of cold toast to the major problem of wasted resources and environmental degradation.

  15. Matt Zolbe02-15-2012

    Matt Zolbe
    Director of Sales and Marketing
    310 Park Avenue
    New York
    NY 10022-6897

    We use the Toast Rack in several of our restaurants within the hotel.

    We also find it helpful to deploy individual Toasters during our morning banquet buffet events.

  16. Josh Howatt02-15-2012

    Josh Howatt
    Sales Co-ordinator
    At Fifth Avenue
    Two East 55th Street
    New York
    New York 10022

    We have elected not to deploy the use of The British Toast Rack as an integral part of either our Morning Breakfast or our Afternoon Tea Time fine dining experience.

  17. Anna G.02-15-2012

    Anna G.
    English Breakfast Matron
    Beeston Place
    SW1W 0JW

    Traditionally, we have found the The British Toast Rack to be an elegant form of presentation. We have utilised The British Toast Rack as part of our breakfast services for over 100 years now, since The Goring first opened it’s doors to guests in 1910.

  18. Emma Carter02-16-2012

    Emma Carter
    General Manager
    B&B Weymouth in Dorset
    South coast of England
    68 The Esplanade
    Weymouth DT4 7AA

    Our B+B overlooks Weymouth Bay, Dorset.

    This morning, over breakfast service, I observed a gentleman guest arrange his toast in a tent-like fashion – to allow the toast to cool before spreading his butter.

    I was just considering whether the introduction of The British Toast Rack would improve our Guest Experience when the telephone rang … was Karim calling from California….

  19. Karim02-16-2012

    I called Emma today because Dorset on the south coast in England of where my old dad was so fond of complaining about cold toast constantly cooling in the toast rack.

    There is nothing quite like the cozy and friendly English B&B – honoured as we currently are to have all these five star hotels comment to us on their toast rack usage.

    Most of all, I wanted to encourage Emma to introduce/re-introduce The British Toast Rack at B&B Weymouth so that future curmudgeons can complain contentedly about it.

    Without a toast rack to complain about, my dad could not enjoy his vacation in Dorset.

  20. Wellington Mpufo02-16-2012

    Wellington Mpufo
    Regional Director of Corporate Sales
    The Westcliff
    67 Jan Smuts Avenue
    South Africa

    The Westcliff does not use The British Toast Rack anymore as we have elected to use the bread baskets for serving toast.

    • Baruti C.02-16-2012

      Now that is a coincidence Wellington because I am from Orange Free State which as you know is our “breadbasket” of all South Africa.

      We have over 30,000 farms and produce over 70% of the grain for our country.

      Also, I have been to the Kalahari desert which is a completely different place – now that is what you could be calling a “toaster” haha!!

  21. Vivian Ojo02-17-2012

    The article raises some great questions about the interplay between the extravagance and functionality of art.

    I liked Thomas’ parallel between the toaster rack and the ‘toys and games’ exemplified by Streep’s quote, essentially pointing out frivolous distractions. This is a clever framework set up to discuss Mezimbite artwork.

    Even outside of obvious function, perhaps the ability of the works to allow the viewer to begin thinking about the function of art, is functional in itself.

  22. Karen Fink Perlmutter02-17-2012

    Karen Fink Perlmutter
    Owner and Managing Partner
    Acanthus Antiques
    Washington D.C.

    I am a long time antique dealer based in Kensington, Maryland, USA.

    I have read with great interest the fascinating reviews of the usage of toast racks in this Mezimbite Magazine article. I have some experience in this area which I’d like to share:

    Back when eBay first began in the 1990’s there was a notable interest in collectibles, including all toast related items in my industry. I recall purchasing several toast racks in local estates and having great success selling them online and in our shop.

    Toast racks date back as early as the Georgian period, but were particularly popular in the 19th Century. Toast racks among the wealthier classes were quite ornate and originally in sterling silver. Later models were silver plated and contemporary ones were even designed in porcelain. The orignal ones resembled partitioned letter holders.

    It should be noted that Tea Cozies of this period were exceptionally popular later on, as items of aesthetic interest, as were the Tea Caddy and Victorian antique Butter Pats.

    At the start of this article the South African, London-based journalist (cute photo..) Brett Scott mentions the British fondness for “cold butter”.

    Brett, you ought to know that Butter dishes were deliberately designed to keep the butter “cold” and butter pats were there to allow you to chop off a slab of butter for individual use. Yes, it was part of the strategy: hot tea (tea cozy), cold butter (butter dish) and (thanks to the toast rack) dry, but cold toast!

    Butter Dishes were often made with stunningly ornate repousse sterling silver or silver plate. They would have two levels. The lower level would hold ice and have pierced holes. The butter would sit on the upper level, staying cold from the ice. There was generally a cover to insure that the butter would stay cold.

    But, I digress..

    The really vital and riveting subject here is The British Toast Rack itself:

    I have some reservations about the functionality and raw materials of the toast rack.

    As a person of Jewish heritage I have a traditional fondness for bagels, and toast racks are poorly designed for bagels (as are modern pop up toasters). I have tried to scrunch a bagel into The British Toast Rack with terrible consequences.

    The bagel became mangled and bruised in the process. A a soldier in battle.

    Because let us face it: the toast rack is about “war” isn’t it? That is why everyone from Mr. Neggers at Claridges to Josh Howatt at the St Regis employ the word “deploy”:

    “At Claridge’s, we deploy the use of The British Toast Rack at breakfast serving time.”
    Claridge’s, Mayfair, London.

    “We have elected not to deploy the use of The British Toast Rack..”
    The St Regis, Manhattan, New York.

    “Deploy” is a military term usually applied to troops in battle. Because that is what toast on a rack is: “divisions” of troops, deployed to do battle. To fight, against the fate of turning cold. And a wise general, such as General Neggers, has to employ a strategy:

    “Our staff are constantly attentive [read: troops constantly ready for battle], and in the event that the toast in the The British Toast Rack should appear to cool or lose it’s crispness and freshness [read: become wounded, or perish in battle], the toast is immediately replenished [read: new troops are deployed]. Our keen replenishment strategy [Formulated by General Neggers, who is clearly the Field Marshal Montgomery of toast rack deployment] ensures that we make use of The British Toast Rack in a manner that is conducive to a pleasant dining experience [read: Victory in the Cold Toast Battle].”

    Simon Neggers

    To General Neggers, the Toast Rack is a friend; to an American president it’s a foe, (as Jeremy quotes above), “A rack is our enemy”; and to the military soldier Hotspur, who has been deployed by Henry IV, the days of chivalry are aligned with the days when toast was warmed on a medieval fireplace, and placed upon a silver toast rack.

    We all have our perspective on this highly controversial Victorian implement, don’t we?

    To me, the toast rack is like one of those fashionable restaurants frequented by the thin, gorgeous (and ice cold) “Beautiful People” who slide slimly into their narrow, elegant seats…

    And then, when the jolly, warm, very tubby and chubby bagel rolls in clumsily, it just feels awkward and out of place and ends up leaving all bruised and esteem-reduced. And then it needs to see a psychotherapist to butter it up with mantra-style affirmations:

    “Plus-sized is also beautiful, plus-sized is also beautiful, plus-sized is also beautiful…”

    Frankly, I think the toast rack is “discriminatory” against the happy – but proportionally challenged – bagel.

    There – I have said it.

    Nor is the toast rack particularly eco-friendly. I tend to agree with Jeremy that Thomas should have deployed his energies and.. uh .. “talent” toward making a toast rack.

    But even if Thomas had done so, he would have had to plunder the planet just as much – has anyone read The Plundered Planet by Paul Collier which is mentioned on the Home Page of the Mezimbite Magazine?..

    And in Africa – particularly the mines that Cecil Rhodes owned in South Africa, they used slave labor, or exploited cheap labor to get the raw minerals.

    I like what Wellington Mpofu at the Westcliff Hotel in South Africa said about their deployment of “bread baskets’. How wonderful, and how ecologically wise to deploy baskets woven of reed or stranded wood shavings to create a carrier for the toast.

    Presumably, Mr. Mpofu, you utilize a napkin to absorb the excess of steam that can otherwise condense and make the toast soggy?..

    For, this is the reason the anti-sogginess toast rack was innovated and re-designed by Christopher Dresser (1834-1904).

    We need more progressively minded innovation of the toast rack mechanism. What I wish to propose here for Mr. Schwarz (now there’s a guy who likely likes his plus-sized bagels, eh?..) the Mezimbite Forest Centre founder, is a “green” Toast Rack:

    We may even see a “come back” of the toast rack if we had a wooden toast rack, crafted by these wonderful artisans. To paraphrase Mr Thwaites:

    “An artisan toast rack? I think that could work.”

    But may I suggest just one slight refinement, Mr. Schwarz you wily old mensch:

    How about a dual-carriage toast rack, the one half for the thin, beautiful, elegant, and cool slender, slivers of toast; the other half, with wider and big-hipped gaps in-between the dividers, for the warm, jolly, happy, chubby, lumpy, wobbly bagels?

    An ecological and an ethnically enlightened toast rack:

    Now, that is the kind of world in which we can all get along – and fit !

  23. Kim Gardi Abelman02-17-2012

    WOW Karen! What a thought provoking and funny article!

    Your green toast rack sounds like an aesthetically beautiful yet functional idea.

    Thomas mentioned an artisan toaster, about which there has been some excitement (but I wonder … Do wood and electric plug-ins go well together?). Alternatively a beautifully carved and colored wood toast / bagel rack …. Wonderful.

    To VIVIAN: Your post really summed up this to and fro of ideas and fun. Indeed as you said, this is a clever framework within which to showcase Mezimbite.

    To EMMA: I just replied to Simon Negger’s post from Claridges (above)..

    How, as a privileged white South African, I grew up with the delicious toast rack, but later as a student and today as a mommy, the triangle-tenting totem of toast works pretty well too, and so when you see your guests doing that, you can attribute it to the original functionality of the toast rack!

  24. Jeremy02-17-2012


    … Which is to say: not all products are “soulless”. The products that cobblers make are not soleless. If they were, we would not go about making our carbon footprints now would we?..

    And another thing:

    This phrase “Allan and his Artisans” that you continue “deploying” sounds like a 1960’s pop music “boy band” like Alan Price and the Animals or Alan Clarke and the Hollies.

    Finally, at my age, I know a lot more about “P’s” than you do.. but do tell me more about these 3 P’s..

  25. Karim02-17-2012

    The interest in the 3P’s began with my interest in Thomas’s Toaster Project:

    On one level, what interested me about Thomas’ toaster, was that it was a Product:

    Allan and I had been around a lots of product developers, designers, engineers, inventors and architects at MIT. What interested both of us more than the products themselves, is what motivated talented to product developers to work on a particular product. That was a more philosophical question:

    Do you expend your MIT engineering skills towards designing the world’s most elegantly designed and expensive expresso machine? Or, do you deploy those same skills toward designing sturdy and simple stoves, for the Darfur Stoves Project:

    The Darfur Stoves Project seeks to protect Darfuri women by providing them with specially developed stoves which require less firewood, decreasing women’s exposure to violence while collecting firewood and their need to trade food rations for fuel.

    So this really is a more philosophical rather than a practical question – what motivates a person to deploy their skills?

    On some level, Thomas seemed to be asking the same question that Allan and I were, perhaps amongst his peers at The Royal College of Art.

    While I was in touch with Thomas, I was also in touch with Oxford Economist Paul Collier who wrote The Plundered Planet:

    It occurred to me that what Paul was saying about plundering the planet resonated richly with what Thomas seemed to be demonstrating with building his toaster: This was about sourcing iron ore to smelt it into steel; about making plastic out of sludge.. it was about “plundering” resources to make consumer goods.

    Moreover, the word “plunder” also had a direct meaning to Allan’s work at Mezimbite:

    Some 16 years ago, he had arrived at Mezimbite when it had been plundered with slash and burn methods. The forest and the community had been devastated. That was the worst news from Mezimbite. And the best news from Mezimbite, two decades after, in 2015, is that it is now ramping up to plant 1,000,000 noble hardwoods annually.

    In 1995, Mezimbite is devastated by slash and burn, the community demoralized by the ravages of civil war; and 20 years later, in 2015, it will be planting 1,000,000 trees per year, producing exquisite wood products, and the people are, and will continue to remain, part of a thriving, sustainable community.

    Some plunder the planet, and others replenish the planet. Sometimes, they are the very same people – who have undergone an epiphany of sorts.

    It depends on whose planet you think it is at the time. Allan and his Artisans (they do rock!!) think it is their planet and their forest is doing a lot for our carbon footprint!

    The missing puzzle piece amidst the Products and Planet equation is… People:

    People + Products = impact upon the Planet.

    That, in a nutshell, is why I was intrigued by The Toaster Project.

    Like the silly toast rack that Karen has transformed into a serious and substantive subject; Thomas’ toaster may be grotesque and ghastly Product – but it serve as a valuable metaphor to allow us to confront questions about ourselves as People, and where we live, on the Planet.

    (And Jeremy, I do agree with you about cobblers making products that have a sole.)

  26. Karim02-17-2012

    What I recall from middle school history classes in Nairobi, Kenya, is that the Portuguese explorer Bartholomeu Dias (1451 – 1500) had quite an impact upon what is modern-day Mozambique, where Mezimbite is based..

  27. Kim Gardi Abelman02-18-2012

    I am going to digress from Jeremy, Emanuel and Karim’s discussions a bit, however like Emanuel, I center my discussion on the same quote from Thomas:

    “There is so much that is wrong with the incessant grinding turnover of soulless products”, or the “plundering” of products.

    Let’s take the continental European breakfast (specifically in France and Italy) which generally scorns plain old British toast in favor of the more creative and versatile croissant, crescent, cornetto!  For indeed, as toast marries well with British tea, so the Italian cornetto marries better with a flavorful espresso or cappuccino.  

    As a linguist for 20 yrs, I lived in both France and Italy, and as an Italianist, Ph.D, and past Italian lecturer, I favor the cornetto. However being Jewish too, let’s not forget the humble “Rugelach” which can be traced back to the Austrian “Kipferl“, sometimes referred to as the ancestor of the croissant.

    Crescent-shaped food breads go back to the Middle Ages, as their shape imitated the esteemed moon, but 18-19th century Paris is mostly considered the Romantic home to the modern croissant (Romantic as the literary, intellectual, and artistic movement of the time).  

    As I favor all things Italian by far, the cornetto should not be confused with the “brioche” of Northern Italy which is like the French version: crispy, but tons of butter.  The cornetto is softer, lighter, really good without fillings, but like toast, (herewith, the only similarity), it laps up  “marmalata”!  

    As a student in Perugia, 1988-’90, late at night, after the prerequisite stroll down the main piazza, on our way home, we’d pass by the local “pasticceria” in the throes of preparing their delights for the early morning rush. Here we’d pop in to exclamations of “benvenuti” and then savour the freshest, warmest, oozing “crema pasticcera” cornetto you can ever imagine!

    In comparison to toast, the crescent innovation, due to its variations and shape, made it the best-known type of European pastry in much of the world, and in the continental breakfast, whether it be a “brioche”, “puff pastry”, “pain au chocolat”, the German “Gipfeli” or Latin American “Medialuna”. Wow! How many times could you refer to the humbled toast in the same way?

    This brings me to the Mezimbite discussion (although I’m mortified it should be centered in a discussion about toast!!!)  

    Like Texas Toast, commercialized products came along, so today we have factory-made, frozen, pre-formed, unbaked, and of course, fast food croissants which can be freshly baked by unskilled labor. And apparently, today, 30–40% of the croissants sold in French bakeries and patisseries are frozen!  

    A piece of humble, yet still delicious toast is far more resistant to change and commercialization, because of it’s simplicity, than the croissant.  This could be an underlying message with regards to Mezimbite artistry and creation.  

    Thomas suggested:

    “There is so much that is wrong with the incessant grinding turnover of soulless products. So I think that the challenge lies in somehow finding a way to infuse a respect for things in to mass consumer culture… a broader realisation that objects kind of have a soul of their own, based on where they come from, how they’re used, and where they go if and when they die. Perhaps the artisans at Mezimbite would like to expand their range to objects that are more often thought of as produced en-masse?” 

    Or… how does one prevent the onslaught of “croissantizing” ?

    Charles Dickens, in whose time the croissant had become well established enough to cross over as a breakfast staple, wrote (in his periodical “All the Year Round” in 1872): “the workman’s pain de ménage and the soldier’s pain de munition, to the dainty croissant on the boudoir table”.”

    Is there a way Mezimbite can cross this divide, from simple toast, to the Continental breakfast’s versatile and shapely croissant, and escape both colonialization and commercialization? 

  28. Kim Gardi Abelman02-18-2012

    Karim, or Allan, (since Allan refers to his “kitchen” as a central melting spot), I am interested in what breakfast amongst the artisans of Mezimbite may consist of, especially since it would include the very sustainable food products it grows itself; and if sugar is indeed amongst their food list?

    I certainly can’t imagine croissants and pastries!

  29. Louise Pheiffer02-21-2012

    Louise Pheiffer
    Marketing Manager

    Mount Nelson Hotel, Cape Town |
    The Westcliff, Johannesburg |
    Khwai River Lodge, Botswana |
    Eagle Island Camp, Botswana |
    Savute Elephant Camp, Botswana

    Hello Karim,

    “We use The British Toast Rack for melba toast when doing pate, use it for fresh toast during breakfast”

    Executive Chef at Mount Nelson Hotel, Rudi Liebenberg.

    Does that inspire you at all….;)


  30. Alison Holmwood02-21-2012

    That is a very pathetic effort!….not funny or memorable at all!


    Alison Holmwood
    Sales Co-Ordinator

    Mount Nelson Hotel, Cape Town and The Westcliff, Johannesburg

    T: +27 (0)21 483 1926
    F: +27 (0)21 483 1929

    Mount Nelson Hotel
    PO Box 2608
    Cape Town
    South Africa

  31. Louise Pheiffer02-21-2012

    The chef’s personality only comes out later in the day…………

    Louise Pheiffer
    Marketing Manager

    Mount Nelson Hotel, Cape Town |
    The Westcliff, Johannesburg |
    Khwai River Lodge, Botswana |
    Eagle Island Camp, Botswana |
    Savute Elephant Camp, Botswana

  32. David Andrews02-21-2012

    The award winning Five Star Fairmont St Andrews thrives on tradition.

    The British Toast Rack is as much a part of the whole hotel experience as the bed you pay to sleep in!

    Without them both, you are simply lost.

    This will ultimately affect your entire experience within our walls.

    A bed needs sheets as much as The British Toast Rack needs toast!

    —David Andrews, Executive Chef

    Fairmont St Andrews, Scotland
    St Andrews, Fife KY16 8PN
    Fax: + 44 (0)1334 471115
    Hotel Phone: + 44 (0)1334 837000

  33. Allan02-21-2012

    If you work at Mezimbite the day starts at 05h30 with Tea (from Malawi) and a locally baked hot roll and honey (our own wilderness managed forest honey). Our honey is pretty special, it is rich and dark and creamy smooth and so strong flavored that it almost makes you cough. Bee keeping is essential to a healthy forest for pollination, the presence of hives is a deterrent to burning and it also provides a decent income for the bee keepers from both wax and honey (we are not yet skilled enough to harvest propolis and royal jelly). Wax for furniture polish and shaving soap and lip balm and foot balm in winter and and and. Our honey is exclusively available at the Mezimbite workers refectory, The staff canteen at Gorongosa National Park, the ad schwarz shop at 70 Juta in Johannesburg and my mothers house.

    Toast over charcoal is only available to spoilt foreign visitors and my free rage daughter at my camp in Mezimbite served and consumed so fast that a toast rack is redundant. Accompanied by coffee Ethiopian medium to dark roast of course.

  34. Keith Recker02-21-2012


    The equivalency between sheets and The British Toast Rack escapes this Yankee just a tad, but the remark and the source are lovely!!!!

    Keith Recker
    HAND/EYE Magazine
    subscribe at

  35. Allan02-21-2012

    We had a senior craftsman’s meeting today to discuss designing and making toast racks.

    David. the workshop leader’s comment was:

    ” Patrao, have you been drinking? Why would anybody want to take nice fresh bread and dry it out over a fire? Then you want a thing to put this piece of damaged bread to cool it off! You Mezungus are mad, they will never sell.”

    The meeting was adjourned for lunch of tilapia stewed in tomato, onion garlic and moringa leaves, and brown rice.

  36. Tom P-B02-22-2012

    Allan, have you heard of the ‘Barracks Racks’?

    It is a way to have the best of both worlds – dry toast that is also warm – by a delightful little family owned-run company called The Toast Host which is located in Sandhurst, Berkshire within a stone’s throw of The Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst.

    At a time when big British industry is churning out “soulless products” this plucky little enterprise has the human touch and the smart ingenuity to match.

    The Toast Host” actually warms the toast of young Sandhurst Officer Training Corps after they have had torturous morning trials and ice cold showers and jolly well deserve some warm toast on their toast racks!

    “An army marches upon it’s stomach” and all that…

    These racks – known affectionately as “barracks racks” – were actually designed with the help of the specs of OTC’s at the Royal Artillery Corps who know a thing or two about warfare… The toast never goes cold (they always win the Cold Toast War!) at Sandhurst barracks breakfasts because of their patented mechanism–

    (The rack is also “deployed” at Britannia Royal Naval College at Dartmouth in Devon).

    You mention, Allan, that you produce wax at Mezimbite —

    “Wax for furniture polish and shaving soap and lip balm and foot balm..”

    Well, this wax can also be used to make candles which are an ecological advantage of the “barracks racks” which The Toast Host engineers.

    Eco-advantage compared to the US Patent Number 6523458 awarded ‘Portable Toast Warmer Apparatus’ and recommended by my namesake + Thwaites above. Sorry Mr. Thwaites but your recommendation of PN 6523458 has several engineering flaws and probably won the award for “appearances” amd “design”. I shall list them here:

    1. PN 6523458 requires an external electric power supply – that’s fine in London, but what about if you are in the Mezimbite forest with no electrical infrastructure?

    2. PN 6523458 transmissions electromagnetic energy – oops.. radioactive, anyone?

    3. PN 6523458 requires battery (melts in tropical heat) when portable is decoupled

    … And I shan’t even get into the whole concept of “heaters mounted on walls” – this PN 6523458 Mr. Thwaites is a most cumbersome of contraptions!

    Candles, Mr Thwaites, candles… Cheap, available – it’s why they used them in Hotspur’s day – rather than “villainous electromagnetic“! (and Mezimbite already makes wax as Allan explained) and – unlike PN 6523458 – Barracks Racks are eco-friendly.

    A short item in our local London rag

    The Mail on Sunday Night & Day Magazine
    Tom Parker Bowles ‘Food for Thought’ column

    Those of you fed up with stone-cold toast for breakfast will adore The Toast-Host, a rack that keeps your toast piping hot on the table. Its made of stainless steel with a tray of small candles and keeps up to eight slices of toast perfectly warm.

    (Allan, when next you’re in London, I’d love to learn more about Mezimbite Forest Community while we breakfast at a local tea house I frequent on Kensington High Street which is a purveyor of finely toasted baked breads and also utilizes the barracks rack – now that will be a slice of British life you shall always remember.. )

  37. Nigel C-T02-23-2012

    Seems you’ve finally overcome your prep school canteen horrors:

    “The food was institutional slop of the lowest form, the sort of bland, unthinking horror that gave British cuisine such a filthy reputation.

    Breakfast consisted of scummy, pallid flaps of tired bacon, cooked days in advance. God only knows the state of the wretched pig that produced this sorry dross but you can guarantee he wasn’t a happy porker. Then fried egg with the consistency of ice hockey pucks and imbued with a faint, sinister fishy tang.

    Even the toast was either burnt to ashes or raw and soggy.

  38. Karim02-24-2012

    The Toast Host deployed at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst excels in both functionality and eco-friendliness; but it lacks a sense of the effete and the aesthete.

    For that we have to turn to Glaswegian Christopher Dresser, who, like the painter Claude Monet, had a fascination with the dainty little Japanese walking bridge.

    Monet deployed these bridges in his Garden in Giverney.

    Dresser applied the design of the bridges to create articulated toast racks, such as the one featured in this article – Cold Toast, by Dr. David Park Curry, who has a PhD in Art History from Yale and is Senior Curator at the Baltimore Museum of Art.

  39. Curmudgeon02-24-2012

    As the resident curmudgeon at the Mezimbite Forest Centre website I should like to register my reticence with all this ridiculous nonsense about The British Toast Rack.

  40. VintageAntiquesUK02-24-2012

    Many antique toast racks nowadays have a new-found use as letter-racks.

  41. Karim02-26-2012

    Tell me more about Amadombolo. I understand that you don’t need an oven to make it:

    “Both the Xhosa and the Zulu make something called.. Imbiza, or Amadombolo. This is a levened bread made without an oven – as in many rural areas and poor urban areas there are no ovens.”

    Can you toast it?..

  42. Karim02-26-2012

    What kind of bread do you eat back home in Ghana?..

  43. Karim02-26-2012

    Do you drink tea or coffee with it? What is customary in Ghana?

    Back home in Kenya, although we are known for our coffee exports – which is a robusta coffee, used for blending – we primarily drink tea, which is also locally grown.

  44. Jeremy02-26-2012

    Although we consider drinking the “British cuppa” an quintessentially “British National Passtime” it is in fact rooted in our “association” with India for over 300 years – that’s where we first learned to drink tea..

  45. Karim02-26-2012

    “Dunking” as in breaking bread and dipping it into your tea?

  46. Jeremy02-26-2012

    There is an absolutely magnificent “Coffee Table Book” about “Tea” that I own, called “The Book of Tea” prefaced by Anthony Burgess.

    For those of us who subscribe to Tea Time Magazine, this is the Holy Grail!

  47. Jeremy02-26-2012

    Well if you wish me to share more on this subject, I first need to know if you are a biscuit man, as I am…

    ..Are you a biscuit man?

  48. Karen Fink Perlmutter02-26-2012

    You have got to be kidding me! This is a joke, right?

  49. Jeremy02-26-2012


    This is most certainly not a joke. This is a serious business for those of us who are true biscuit lovers which you are clearly not.

    At my last meeting of the Society, we addressed the concern of such skeptics as yourself, and also those who do not possess the delicate sensibilities to detect the exquisite essence of a finely formed biscuit.

    I am a touch incensed.

  50. Karen Fink Perlmutter02-26-2012

    “Incensed” – you mean you’re wearing men’s cologne?..

  51. Jeremy02-26-2012

    No, I mean “incensed” as in “perturbed”.

    You ought to be willing to look past the first definition of a word when next you peruse the Oxford English Dictionary.

  52. Karen Fink Perlmutter02-26-2012

    I’ll remember that pal.. next time I “peruse” my Webster’s American Dictionary.

  53. Karen Fink Perlmutter02-26-2012

    Right – “dunking”!

    Okay, well here’s something for those of you with delicate sensibilities:

    The Dunkin’ Donuts company is a pioneer in the dunking business. Donuts, muffins, scones, bagels… are all encouraged to be dunked in coffee, tea, hot chocolate – you name it.

    Buttermilk donut dunked in Dunkin’ Donuts original blend coffee…

    … Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!!

  54. Jeremy02-26-2012

    How horrid!!

    That’s it for me – I am leaving this comment section – I cannot bear to hear another word of this tastelessness ..

    This is not the Mezimbite Way!

    Just take a look at the tasteful, exquisite furniture and jewelry the artizaans produce on this website… is that not the standard we all aspire to ?… How can you possibly – Madame – mention Dunkin’ Donuts in the midst of such elegance and beauty…?


    … may I just say – in parting.. as an emeritus member of The Biscuit Appreciation Society that it is precisely this sort of crassness that was discussed by the board when last I was at our Society Meeting – which is held in a small forest (much smaller than Mezimbite Forest but with the same purity of spirit).

    Our forest centre is Frank’s Forest, some 20 miles south of Dorset where Karim’s dad had his original insight into The British Toast Rack – as well as the English Tea Cozy.

    (Should you wish to learn more about our Society Meetings kindly read this).

    Dunkin’ Donuts is an abomination of the dunking tradition, which goes back centuries to the Dunk Family in 1655, who perfected dunking as we know it today.

    Dunkin’ Donuts is to The Biscuit Appreciation Society what the Starbucks conglomerate is to the cozy little French bistro that The Curmudegon frequents for his morning coffee…(and refers to in Curmudgeon’s Toast)

    A sacrilege!!

    And furthermore, Madame, may I suggest that you purchase yourself an Oxford English Dictionary so that when I say – as I am about to – that I am “incensed”, you comprehend that no, I have not just doused myself with cologne.

    I am simply perturbed.

    Morever, may I direct you to his fine article on dunking by Sara Laden..

  55. Kim Gardi Abelman02-26-2012

    That is exactly right, E!

    And here is some more cultural perspective on dunking –
    J, you have talked about biscuits and E – you have talked about bofrot – and Karen, about American buttermilk donuts.

    Well, what about RUSKS, guys?

    That is a particularly South African tradition…


    Or at least in SA. I believe it may be Dutch.

    But famous are the OUMA (Afrikaans for grandma) Rusks which one can ONLY EAT dunked!!

    Can u Google OUMA or Rusks?

    I know this very very very strong SA tradition. I know the Brits may dunk tea biscuits (Jeremy) but I’m not sure on the etiquette?

    Indeed the SA rusk is dunked with delicious gusto!!!!

  56. Jeremy02-26-2012

    With regards to “etiquette” of British dunking, dear Kim, it really is quite simple:

    One does never, ever, dunk in public.

    One dunks in private or amongst close friends – selectively and discreetly. Even the Queen of England has been known to dunk in private while having her afternoon tea.

    Dunking is done tactfully, tastefully- timing perfected in through dunking instruction.

  57. Karen Fink Perlmutter02-26-2012

    “Dunking instruction” – you have got to be kidding me?…

    You mean like “classes” for dunking?

  58. Karen Fink Perlmutter02-26-2012

    Jeremy, honey – you had me at “trifling and trivial”…

    Seriously though..

    Isn’t that the premise of “Dunkin Donuts”. You dunk your delectable, be it scones, toast or donuts in the hot beverage of choice!

  59. Karen Fink Perlmutter02-26-2012

    Dear Mr. Biscuit Appreciation Society Board Member Emeritus,

    May I suggest you get yourself a Spanish-English (Spanglish) dictionary and look up the word “churro”? The Spanish make churro purely for dunking purposes. And then they make a Chocolate drink just for dunking the churro []


    Churro and Chocolate Dunking Appreciation Person

  60. Jeremy02-26-2012

    Madame, you had me at “churro”…

  61. Antoine Chiquet02-26-2012

    I am French – a Parisian living now in New York – I work with Allan and Karim on the Mezimbite Forest Centre project. I would like to state that many French people dunk.

    They dunk their croissant into their morning cafe au lait – it is very common.

    Personally, I do not eat croissant, nor do I like to dunk. But I witness it often.

  62. Russell Platt02-27-2012

    The Strand
    London WC2

    Like The Savoy, the toast rack is something of a British tradition.

    A polished silver toast rack of fresh, warm toast helps elevate a humble breakfast to more of an occasion. It is after all the most important meal of the day.

    Russell Platt, Breakfast Manager, The Savoy

    Afternoon Tea at The Savoy Hotel, London

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