Burnt Toast in the Morning

Did you ever have one of those days when nothing goes right in the kitchen?

There should be a cooks’ compendium of prophetic folk sayings like “Red Sky at night, Shepherds (or Sailors) delight”. Most of these sayings revolve around the weather or the agricultural cycle to aid the farmer (or the sailor). My personal favorite is “On the full moon, planting garlic is opportune”. This was told to me in a thick Thames Valley accent from a fellow – albeit ancient – gardener in my allotment garden one October in Oxfordshire. A wise bit of advice, even if it sounds a bit like vampire lore.

There is, however, a body of folk superstitions revolving around cooks and cooking that involve dropping knives, tossing salt over your shoulder and hanging braids of onions and garlic to ward off evil. All cultures have such folk-beliefs.


I have an old (dusty, faded and bedraggled) kitchen witch hanging in the corner of my pantry. When my sister and I were quite young – long before we had our own kitchens – we were both given these German (some say Scandinavian) hanging dolls or poppets in the shape of stereotypical witches. These witches were said to protect a kitchen and bring good luck. Obviously, mine wasn’t doing her job the morning when the toaster started spewing a black cloud.

So, I feel compelled to invent a new saying: “Burnt Toast in the morning, Cooks’ warning”.

Never mind, there is always the option of take-out for dinner.

The toaster has been cleaned and is free of cinders, the kitchen witch has been dusted and, with any luck, the toast won’t burn in the morning.



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