From Carol Midgley in THE TIMES, 1 July 2021
I hesitate to raise this since we’ve suffered enough lately, but there is bad news on the artisan bread front. Sourdough is too big for conventional toasters. Basic. Nightmare. The slices are too long, wide and thick to fit a conventional-sized slot. And no, that wasn’t a double entendre. I only wish I had the heart to joke about it.
“This isn’t the end of the world, but it means you can sometimes end up with a pale white border around the edge of your toast where it hasn’t had any heat,” said a Which? report. Not the end of the world? Not the end of the world? What if you have weekend guests at your second home in Suffolk and remember too late that this is the house that doesn’t have the Aga with the wire toasting paddle? It’s not as if you can nip to the local corner shop. Your friend’s toddler Titus is allergic to ready-sliced bread along with any item of food bought at Asda. When will the middle classes catch a break?
I feel almost as dismayed as the time I heard a woman complain loudly to a young shelf-stacker in a Fulham Sainsbury’s, “But we don’t like bagged basil. I want a living basil pot.” Poor woman. Her dinner party starter ruined by a pre-cut herb. You may mock middle-class dilemmas, but they are exhausting. I mean, do you or don’t you chastise your cleaner because she keeps putting the Fairtrade bananas in the fruit bowl and not on the banana hanger provided. Hello? I know your English isn’t great, but it doesn’t take a genius to understand that if air circulates around the fruit it removes excess ethylene. Hardly rocket science! Except, er, I now recall that you are studying rocket science at university. Happy to help you to pay your fees.
Last year John Lewis said it would loan out white goods and furnishings, effectively giving people a rentable middle-class lifestyle. Pah! If only it were so simple. I mean, take our dear, principled leftie friends who selflessly put their kids in a private school purely so it didn’t deprive other children of a place at the very good local comp. Now it seems that being privately educated might count against them for Oxbridge so they’re having to pretend the kids are being bullied to move them to the good state school. See? You try to do the right thing, but you just can’t win.
Oh, it’s easy to mock us for our expensive Glasto habit or our “ethically sourced” cocaine, or because we were horrified when Waitrose started giving away free coffee. You may snigger that we are affronted if you don’t compliment our bathroom toiletries (do you know how much L’Occitane handwash costs? The Carex will be back out the second you’ve gone). And no, we haven’t got round to swapping the 4×4 for an electric car yet even though we are vocal eco-saviours. You should see our organic veg box delivery! But where would we put the charging point for an electric car, eh? Are we supposed to pull down the orangery?
Now this sourdough problem comes as another kick in the teeth. Yes, you could consider toasting one half then turning it and toasting the other, but does anyone have the time? Or you could whisper the unspoken truth, which is that eating sourdough is like chowing down on an old chamois leather yet you must nom-nom appreciatively because it’s the rules. But please don’t speak your truth in Waitrose. Like I said, these people have suffered enough.