A Toast Has Everything to Do with Bread

toast4My rich Irish and English ancestral heritage naturally requires me to raise a glass and toast to good health and prosperity, not to mention my keen appreciation for a respectable piece of toast in the morning with jam and a nice hot “cuppa.” I began to ponder the connection between the cocktail toast and toasted bread, so I headed down memory lane forged thousands of years ago, and to my surprise: I quickly discovered that toast was in fact an integral part of the toast.

In the 6th century B.C., the Greeks began hailing their friends and family over honey mead and mutton. Of course they did! Some of the most brilliant philosophical minds were born out of Greek society and were considered the leading authorities on civility, learning and intellect. They probably scribbled the first salute on a stone coaster while musing on how to spread good viticulture.

ToastThe Romans followed the Greeks’ path to broadening cultural horizons and quickly discovered drying bread by the fire not only reduced mold and increased the shelf life, but also found that by sprinkling pieces of toasted bread into their goblets reduced the high acidity levels of the wine, which made it more palatable. Presto! The moniker was born: Tostus. Oh, and we can also thank them for roads and plumbing.

The cocktail “toast” is a dark horse. The Greco-Roman world had a habit of poisoning their rivals (thieves, discarded spouses and foes) under the guise of giving a killer dinner party. After all, divorce lawyers were scarce; proper inmate rehabilitation programs did not exist, and people just fundamentally had a pension for revenge, especially when crossed. In spite of this, usually the master of ceremonies drank first to make sure his friends and family felt at ease and the gaieties commenced.

Thank goodness the history of the “toast” has morphed into a ritual. It’s a ritual we all, a collective people on all seven continents, share; the mystic tradition of raising a glass in honor of one another; in appreciation of life, family, love and humankind … the desire to continue and to remember.

Sláinte (This girl is mostly Irish).

grapesBy Christi Churchill