English Bread?

Prevalent as a chain in California, we have a Japanese market complex called Mitsuwa in our town.  Inside the grocery store, the bakery, Pastry House Hippo, lies nestled in a corner close to the checkouts.  Apart from the standard buns filled with custard or red bean paste, they produce another curiosity.

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I am trying to figure out what the hand is trying to do. Vibrating a giant Mento?

When my sister-in-law and her husband were over, they pretty well confirmed that, “No, it’s not.”  Let’s look at the scale of it.  It’s 3/4″ thick and check out how high it is.

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And at $2.10 for 6 pieces, even as expensive as things are in the U.K., bread is not that costly.

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But, as a treat, it makes a decadent plate of toast, as my sister-in-law and her husband can attest.  (And you can tell how long I have been part of an Anglo-American household, if I am entertaining the decadence of toast.  There is no hope anymore for me.)  I believe they said something to the effect of “We’ll take the blame for that.”

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Of course, when discussing bread products of this nature, you have to ask about English muffins.  They were invented by an Englishman, Samuel Bath Thomas.  He emigrated to the United States, became a U.S. citizen, and opened his bakery in New York City in 1880.  The name, Thomas’s English Muffins, was first documented in 1894, according to the trademark filing in 1926.  The muffins were designed to be a “toaster crumpet” that kept the nooks and crannies when the muffin was sliced, and they were designed to be easier to toast.  The hotel caterers loved this invention, and business boomed for Mr. Thomas.  Such deliciousness could not be kept a secret, so the muffins were exported back to the U.K. where they are known just as muffins.  Eggs Benedict hasn’t been the same since.  English inventiveness + American backing and promotion = Awesomeness!

So what can we conclude after all of this?

  1.  We can get excellent bread in this country, but because we are such a huge nation, not everything can get to everyone.
  2.  English muffins are English by nature of the inventor.
  3.  Japan obviously idealizes English bread to the point where they have improved upon it, although you would have to be in the 1% and work out for 3 hours every day to eat it.
  4. I did not realize I inherited the British Toast Obsession until I wrote this post.

67 thoughts on “English Bread?

  1. Allow me to confuse the issue a bit; the bread you’ve pictured, in the thick slices, would be called Texas Toast style bread in many California restaurants, which use it to make, wait for it… French Toast. Does any of that help?

    Shall we start on artisan breads next? Here in Cali, we’ve got a million of ’em…Zucchini bread, Native American breads… you name it… It can be hard to make a choice…. not to choose to starve.

    I like the pic of the dry toast; it looks like something the elder Blues Brother would have liked…the one played by Dan Akroyd…

    Yes, toast is a ‘different’ sort of obsession, isn’t it?….

    gigoid, in fun…

    😎

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Since I never been to your fair state, isn’t your part of California more of an area that prides itself on experimenting with its restaurant cuisine, gigoid? While we definitely have our own innovative restaurant culture in Chicago, we are mostly known for our pizza, hot dogs, and a various barbeque places from our southern transplants.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, the folks around the Bay do like their restaurants, of every category there is, then add the fusion cuisines… As a retired chef, it’s nice to have a wide choice, but, quality is hard to find everywhere…

        I’ve heard Chicago has some good bbq; and I’ve had VERY good Chicago style pie… I was just fooling around, mostly… I like bread, & your subject matter seems to stim my jokester….

        I drove into Chicago in 1970, & flew out the same day, as the vibes there gave me the willies. I spent a longer time in Britain in 2013, when I fulfilled a lifelong dream of visiting the Isles; I was there for 15 days, and I’m going back, to Ireland, shortly…. I like your site because my ancestry is English/Irish, but, I was born here, so, I like reading your take on things…

        gigoid

        Liked by 2 people

  2. So, if the ‘English muffins’ of America are called just ‘muffins’ in England, what do they call ‘regular’ (i.e. what Americans would call) muffins in England?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. We are having soft boiled eggs and muffins for dinner tonight. I’ve found that Americans are repelled by runny boiled eggs. Is that something you have found or do I just know fussy egg eaters? The kids were glad to find muffins were here but I’ve yet to find any crumpets in this area. Have you seen crumpets?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have known runny boiled egg eaters in the States, but they have a tendency to be older. I think people have lost patience with cooking them precisely, so they weren’t exposed to them as children.

      They sell crumpets at Trader Joe’s in its bread section. Check the refrigerated section of other grocery stores for crumpets.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have just met egg fusspots then. I will have to look again at our Trader Joe’s but I have never spotted them there. Ours is a small one though so perhaps its stock is more limited. I will have to do a crumpet raid next time I pass a larger Trader Joe’s.

        Liked by 1 person

              1. I am not convinced by your police work there: I can make pancakes but my attempts at homemade crumpets are woeful. Probably they are easy for anyone who doesn’t have an evil eye for baking. Maybe I should try again and inflict my efforts on the kids.

                Liked by 1 person

                  1. Ha! No. The fault is all mine. I think I’m an imprecise baker. I’m a very instinctive cook whereas baking involves more precision. It’s crazy that I can make the best pancakes (so say my kids) but I’m inept at crumpet. I will try again though.

                    Liked by 1 person

              2. In order to make pancakes the way I like them, without any baking powder or baking soda, it takes a lot of work, and upper arm/shoulder endurance!

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                  1. It adds a chemically salty taste, that just ruins it for me! That’s why I rarely have pancakes. I never order them at diners, and it’s so much work to make my way at home.

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                    1. I use a handheld one, and it destroys my shoulders, trying to control it in the bowl! I can’t afford a stand mixer.

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  4. I love learning from your posts. However today, I’ve learned there’s no ‘authentic Muffins’ or ‘Crumpets’….in the land of opportunity!! Bummer, unless of course you’re a baker. It’s bad enough you guys not having any Smarties or Kitkat’s that taste like authentic Kitkats. But to be without proper bread, well that’s just wrong! 🙂 No wonder you like peanut butter so much.

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        1. The Mariano’s near my house is always out of them. Thay’re always out of apricot jello, too, which is frustrating, when we want to make apricot cake!

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    1. Hang on, we have the authentic muffins. They were invented over here. As far as crumpets, they are also sold in the refrigerated section in some grocery stores, depending on where you live.

      Regarding Smarties, I refer the Right Honourable Gentleman to my banner picture on my home page. Surely, you recognize the lettering and the packaging. Nestlé makes Lentilky for the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Having a huge Central and Eastern European community here in Chicagoland means having Smarties. Kit-Kats? Can get those too…the British and the Central European. Can’t taste the difference, and the Central European ones cost less if you just want the regular ones. But if we want the mint ones, we just go over to World Market. It’s the Cadbury that’s the issue.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. It was bloody lovely bread! Perfect for toasting and a spot of butter.

    Can’t get anything like that over here (as far as I’m aware) and had no idea it was so pricey! Thanks again for the generosity. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I must say, that since 2012 (London Olympics – Royals Wills & Kate and the Queens’ Jubilee, Downton Abbey etc). English things have become very popular abroad. Spanish go crazy over English Cheddar, chocolates, London Gin, when they have perfectly good gin of their own. The French want British Beer. British cars have increased their exports to China (capitalism is fashionable) and Japan – and half timbered houses with red bricks are being built all over Asia. This sort of thick sliced bread is not the usual sort of bread one used to eat in Japan – so I presume labelling it English bread (with red brick-design on the packet) it just a marketing ploy.

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    1. That is certainly true that English products have gotten more popular abroad. As far as the packaging for the bread, that is the bag they use for all of their breads, so it isn’t particular to the English bread. The name is certainly a marketing ploy though. Asia certainly has their share of Anglophiles. I don’t know if the Boffin has noticed this, but we eat in the food court at Mitsuwa quite often, and some of the Asians have a tendency to lean over to listen to his voice during our meals. It’s fascinating to watch.

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