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.
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.
And at $2.10 for 6 pieces, even as expensive as things are in the U.K., bread is not that costly.
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.”
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?
- We can get excellent bread in this country, but because we are such a huge nation, not everything can get to everyone.
- English muffins are English by nature of the inventor.
- 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.
- I did not realize I inherited the British Toast Obsession until I wrote this post.