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Toast is bread that has been browned by radiant heat. The browning is the result of a Maillard reaction, altering the flavor of the bread and making it firmer so that it is easier to spread toppings on it. Toasting is a common method of making stale bread more palatable. Bread is often toasted using a toaster, but toaster ovens are also used.
Toast is commonly eaten with butter or margarine, or sweet toppings, such as jam or jelly. Regionally, savory spreads, such as peanut butter or a yeast extract, may also be popular. Buttered toast may also accompany savory dishes, especially soups or stews, and be topped with heartier ingredients like eggs or baked beans as a light meal. Toast is a common breakfast food. Bagels and English muffins are also toasted.
Toast may contain carcinogens (acrylamide) caused by the browning process.
Bread can also be toasted under a grill (or broiler), in an open oven, or lying on an oven rack. This "oven toast" is usually buttered before toasting. It can also be made by heating bread in a skillet or pan. Bread can also be toasted by holding it near, but not directly over, an open flame, such as a campfire or fireplace; special toasting utensils (e.g. toasting forks) are made for this purpose.
Toast is now most commonly eaten with butter or margarine spread over it, and may be served with preserves, spreads, or other toppings in addition to or instead of butter. Toast with jam or marmalade is popular. A few other condiments that can be enjoyed with toast are chocolate spread, cream cheese, and peanut butter. Yeast extracts such as Marmite in the UK, New Zealand and South Africa, and Vegemite in Australia are considered national traditions. Some sandwiches, such as the BLT, call for toast to be used rather than bread.
Toast is an important component of many breakfasts. In the United Kingdom, toast is part of a traditional breakfast: it may be incorporated in a full breakfast or eaten with baked beans. A dish popular there with children is eggs and soldiers. Strips of toast (the soldiers) are dipped into the runny yolk of a soft-boiled egg through a hole made in the top of the eggshell, and eaten.
Toast is also used in some traditional bland specialty diets for people with gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea. This is because toasting breaks down the starch in the bread and makes it easier to digest.
In southern Sri Lanka, it is common for toast to be paired with a curry soup and mint tea. In Japan, people like to toast thick slices of bread. Toast became a staple dish in Japan after World War II, especially after it was introduced in school lunches throughout the country due to the shortage of rice. Thick slices of toasted bread are also eaten in regions of the US, where they are known as Texas toast. Street vendors in South Korea serve toast with a variety of toppings, usually fried eggs, vegetables and slices of meat, topped with sauces. Korean toast is to be eaten as a sandwich. In Southeast Asia, coconut jam is a popular spread for toast. Avocado toast is seen as a symbol of millennial culture.
By 2013, "artisanal toast" had become a significant food trend in upscale American cities like San Francisco, where some commentators decried the increasing number of restaurants and bakeries selling freshly made toast at what was perceived to be an unreasonably high price.
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