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French toast

The French are known for their fine cuisine. Their lavish lunches and sumptuous dinners are legendary. But breakfast, or le petit déjeuner, might seem to get short shrift, to the dismay of travelers coming from places where breakfast is a more elaborate affair. I remember as a tourist in France, I felt so French having a baguette or croissant for breakfast, smearing jam and butter on either, enjoying it with a frothy café au lait (that, sadly, I learned wasn’t a bottomless cup…) accompanied by the tiniest glass of orange juice that I’d ever seen. But by Day #3, I started craving a scrambled eggs and hash browns, and – mais oui – a side of crisp bacon.

I was never really a huge breakfast eater, though. No steak and eggs for me, or corned beef hash and huevos rancheros. Usually I saved those for weekend brunch. After a night of being a line cook in a very busy restaurant, breakfast was a quick cup of dark coffee and maybe a half-bagel or some other carb. As the years of eating the diet of a line cook (which is everything you can manage to stuff in your mouth in the shortest amount of time), to get back into reasonable shape, I joined a workout group and the instructor came around one day, and asked each of us what we had for breakfast. Most of us got yelled at for not eating enough, including me.

So now my breakfast consists of coffee, juice, and toast, then I have a fruit salad around mid-morning, although I remember Romain’s French father being astounded to see me eating between meals. “C’est formidable!” he said, watching me eat a bowl of fresh fruit one morning around 10am, as if I was some sort of radical for stuffing my craw between the prescribed meal times.


Another thing that might raise eyebrows is that I now put an ice cube in my glass of orange juice, which I had in Portugal and found to be an extra-refreshing way to wake up. Romain is an anomaly and has taken to ice, too. The French aren’t generally fond of ice, or cool drinks: a reader wrote to me once to tell me her French in-laws microwaved their orange juice in the morning, because it was too cold coming out of the refrigerator. That may be changing though; two neighbors came over the other day to use my kitchen and when they learned that my refrigerator had an ice maker, they spent the afternoon refilling their water glasses with it.

And now that the Spritz has become the drink of choice amongst les bobos, the Parisian version of hipsters, who seem to be taking more to les glaçons in the Italian apéritif that’s replaced the mojito in cafés, making ice more acceptable. Even Picard, the French frozen food store sells bags of it, which interestingly, they’re advertising with the tagline, “How many cubes are you putting in your orange juice?” I never thought I’d be a trend-setter in France, especially with my awkward fashion sense which means I am the only man in Paris who wears socks with his sneakers.

French toast in supermarket

One thing the French don’t seem to mind cold is toast, as evidenced by this aisle of boxes of toast sold at my local supermarket. I don’t know who wants to eat bread that could double as a ginger grater, but from the space it takes up, it’s obviously pretty popular.

Perhaps it’s because a number of people have warned me about potential dangers of eating pain chaud, or warm bread, which they say will give you a brioche, or a pot-belly. Which room temperature bread apparently doesn’t. Which may be one reason why it’s better to eat cold bread. Yet no one’s been ever to explain the logic of why warm bread will give you a brioche (pot-belly), but cold doesn’t. So until someone shows me evidence from a trusted medical or scientific source that says otherwise, I am going to continue to eat warm bread whenever I can.

chestnut honey toast

(Curiously, just last week I learned that eating the mie, the interior, of bread will also make you fat, but the crust won’t. I couldn’t find any info on that one either.)

Sometimes Romain will get up earlier than me and make the toast, leaving it on my plate until I make my way to the table. He doesn’t realize the urgency I have for spreading the butter on toast while it’s still warm. I insist that when I spread salted butter on it, it melts into little golden, frothy pools, filling in all the holes and creating shiny rivulets of melted butter. I will vault over whatever is in my way to make sure that my toast is still warm when I spread the butter on it. His wonderful parents make their toast the night before and leave it out on their breakfast tray, so I guess I should be glad he’s not doing that. But I’m a little concerned that it’s only a matter of time…


The French will sometimes dip their cold, buttered toast with jam in their morning, which is sort of a roundabout way of warming it up, I guess. But that makes me wonder why it’s interdit to drink coffee with dessert after a meal (it’s enjoyed after) when buttered toast with jam has the same ingredients – flour, butter, fruit, sugar – as dessert, which is usually made with the same combination of ingredients: flour, butter, fruit, and sugar.

But chacun à son goût, as they say, or “to each their own taste,” and I’m happy to let everyone enjoy their food the way they want to. I’ve been skirting the issue lately with having a fresh baguette for breakfast, which doesn’t need to get toasted and I don’t need to go on a morning rampage if it’s not warm when the butter hits it. (So I’m getting a few more minutes of sleep in the morning.) And I don’t have to worry about getting a brioche, although I do have to say, when I sometimes pick up a brioche instead of a baguette, I do prefer that toasted.


    • SIobhan

    pssst..this editor who can never resist putting aside her work when your posts arrive just wanted to say, with her editor’s cap on, the expression is “short shrift,” not short shift. Pls feel free to delete/not publicize this comment if possible. And if you ever want an editor, free of charge, to run your posts by, this big fan would be willing! :o)

      • Linda Zimmerman

      several typos in this post.

      • Elisabeth

      I am also a fan of yours, David, and an editor. I agree that running your posts by someone who will kindly proofread them before they are published might be worth considering.

        • David
        David Lebovitz

        I did have an editor for a while but it added 2-3 days to publish a post with the back-and-forth, queries, making corrections, and so forth. Since the idea of a blog is a personal journal, it became something else entirely and I decided to keep the blog lively, casual, and fun, so I hope readers will forgive an occasional gaffe.

        Like print functionality for the recipes on the blog (that I am desperately trying to master), I don’t want the comment thread to turn into discussions about typos so best if we end the discussion here – thanks!

          • Antonia

          I kind of like your typos. As well as your sprinkling of French expressions. As to the reasoning behind cold toast, which the English love too (holders to cool individual pieces of toast!) is to better enjoy the incredible butter both countries make and enjoy. I have to admit that spreading it on something that does not make it melt is almost as sinful as eating it with a spoon or right off the knife!

            • clementine

            I would argue that English toast racks are not designed with the cooling of toast in mind but rather as a way of keeping toast crisp: If it is laid flat, the steam from the hot toast is trapped underneath and can cause the underside to go soggy – the avoidance of a “soggy bottom” being something of a national obsession (see Mary Berry for details). In my English family, the early rounds of toast tend to be wolfed at speed, hot and buttered, with remaining, cold slices tolerated with marmalade towards the end of breakfast merely to tidy the table and ensure satiety…

          • Diane

          I enjoy the typos, don’t proof, write with your heart and soul, I find the spontaneity of a few typos charming.

          Which reminds me, thank you for the wonderful Caponata recipe. I am of Sicilian descent and had all but forgotten this wonderful summer treat that my grandmother used to make. The recipe is excellent.

          • Lynda

          David no editor is needed imho, real is so much better – thinking of The Velveteen Rabbit. I want and need perfection from a surgeon, although have not usually even found perfection there!!! not from a Wonderful Blogger like You!
          Thank you so very much for sharing Paris and a slice of your life with me, great appreciation for your time and thanks again.

            • Olivia


          • RossC

          Wonderful response… :O)

          • Olivia

          I agree. Unbleached :)

          • Leslie

          I don’t mind the typos at all. They add a human touch, and to me a blog is a more transient, almost thinking-out loud-message. When there are typos in The New York Times, on the other hand, they bother me.

        • Glen

        I love typos. I chat with my daughter every Sunday morning on Skype. Occasionally we do some of the best typos and can hardly stop laughing to keep on.

          • David
          David Lebovitz

          Auto-correct has certainly added some humor in our lives in terms of when it changes things/words without our realizing it until after messages are sent!

    • Bernadette

    David, I also love ice in my orange juice and bread warm enough so the butter will melt. Warm orange juice makes my mouth pucker. If I have cold toast, it has to be dipped in a good Irish tea. :)

    I wonder if the bread-belly thing is related to yeast somehow, I just saw something recently that mentioned how you pour beer can give you a bad belly as well. I suppose we’ll have to risk it enjoying warm baguettes!

    • Josi

    The Dutch do it too with their “beschuit” or rusks, which are round. My mother had a lovely round container just for storing them!

    • MrsSW

    I’m with you about hot toast, David – and none of that overdone stuff that is dangerous to one’s mouth. Nicely crisp, butter melting warm and pass the marmalade, please.

    • Julia

    Glad to know I’m not the only one who gets frantic about how many seconds pass between toast popping up and butter being spread on it. If the timing is off I’ve even been known to give that batch of toast to hubby (who could care less if the toast is cold and don’t even get me started about spreading butter or pb all the way to the edges of the toast vs his habit of leaving this horrible ½ inch of naked rock-like toast and crust, which is another reason I won’t even let him make toast for me usually) and make a second batch of toast for myself the PROPER way! mmmm….melted butter on warm toast

      • cait

      I laughed reading your comment because it’s completely identical to my toast preferences, especially the disparity between my toast priorities and my husband’s lack thereof.
      So funny how particular we all are.

    • Elizabeth Patric

    One wonders, – if you start with cold toast, and warm it up and butter it – would that cause “belly fat.?”

    • Julie

    I love all of your posts, but these musings on ways of life are the absolute best. Thank you for the slice of life.

    • jane

    My husband and I live in France three months each year (his business takes him there) and one of my favorite things is buying the cereales baguette, slicing it up and toasting the slices (very unfrench of me) and slathering on the butter that has the big salt flakes (blue wrapper, can’t remember name, but I bring home lots of packages each year for us and friends)! As for jam, I can take or leave it, but keep my toast hot and give me salted butter! Yummm! thanks for the great post. I can hardly wait for March! ;)

      • Judith

      Oh my, you bring back butter??? I go back and forth many times a year and I want to do that!! Do you just put it in your suitcase? Please tell me how to do this…

        • Linda

        I have been bringing back lots of butter for many years. I simply use one of the “cold” grocery sacks you can purchase in most grocery stores and one of those small blue ice blocks you can freeze before you return home (used for picnics, etc.) you can buy there as well. I place the bag in my suitcase between clothes and have never had a problem as the blue ice usually last a good 18-24 hours.

          • Judith

          I am doing this next week! Thank you!!!

        • Tomese

        I buy loads of butter as close to my departure date as I can, and just put it in my suitcase. I try to remember to bring Ziploc bags with me in case a packet gets squished. It always makes it home just fine.

          • Hillary

          Yes, if it goes into your checked luggage it should be fine unrefrigerated, as the cargo hold will be quite chilly while the plane is in flight. Now, if your suitcase sits on he Tarmac for an hour afterwards, the butter might soften a bit…

            • Bricktop

            We bring it in our carry-ons. Never had a problem and we ALWAYS declare it to US customs. They have more important things on their minds than my stash of Bordier, luckily for us.

      • Paul

      I think you mean Bellvaire butter. I remember reading a post by David about this years ago. I live in London and go to Paris a few times each year and also stock up on this amazing butter whenever I go.

    • Ellen

    Italians do it too – fette biscottate – pre toasted toast. So very strange to us americans!

    • Noémi

    My explanation for all those cold toasts in French supermarkets, is that they are the perfect thing for dunking into your cafe au lait or, better still, chocolat chaud – they are so dry they absorb a good amount of liquid, and are a delicious, albeit messy, way to start the day! As for the mie and warm bread making you fat, isn’t it simply that they are softer and more delicious so you eat twice as much in half the time?!

    • Iris Ahl

    I read Slobhan’s comment about “short shrift” but I see he did not point out that you mean “travelers” rather than “traveler’s” in the third line of the post. Apparently people have problems with plurals v. possessives. I humbly suggest that my editorial services would be equally as appropriate as Slobhan’s.

      • Joan

      I consider biscottes or fette biscottate (in Italian) completely different to “cold toast”…. I’d never even thought of the two being related before reading this post….

      • Siobhan

      I indeed saw the erroneous possessive, but as David pointed out, typos are a way of life in a personal blog and I certainly wasn’t about to go through dissecting the entire text—that would be offensive. I just thought he’d appreciate the shift/shrift heads up. So, yes, as David wishes, let’s drop this and just enjoy the delightful message. (I’m a hot toast/melted butter gal too! I’m forwarding this post to my friend who shares a house with me in Portugal a few months each year–she shakes her head when I object to her making the toast before the eggs!) Thank you, David!!

      • Bricktop

      Unless you consider that it’s Siobhan (i not l) and he’s a she, then you pass the audition. :-)

    • lainie

    This recalls mornings with my Cuban grandparents. My grandmother would make what we call melba toast (she called it cuban toast) in the afternoons and store it in a large tin. In the morning I would hear them speaking quietly in Spanish, crunching their cuban toast and drinking cuban cafe. I miss them.

    • Carmen

    Cold toast is what the italians call Fette biscottate and supermarkets have whole aisles devoted to them. What many people don”t realise is that they have a lot more sugar and salt than actual bread…so there goes the pot belly theory!!
    And no, the italians don’t understand the concept of hot toast either…

    • soozzie

    One active summer day we were tired from an hours-long walk and thought it would be nice to have a snack about 5:00, especially since dinner was still at least four hours away. Our French friends reacted to our suggestion with almost comical horror, as if we had said we were going to take off all our clothes and go to the store in the village. On the plus side, they do appreciate good hot toast, and always have the local sweet bread on hand with crunchy salted butter, as well as several local jams and honeys.

    • David
    David Lebovitz

    Julie: Glad you liked it!

    Iris, Slobhan and Linda: I’m leading my annual chocolate tour this week and have been with my guests, but wanted to share a story with readers. Apologies for any typos.

    jane: Yes, I love that butter with extra-large crystals of salt, too : )

    • Kiki

    to me the whole point of making toast is that it is warm, melts the butter and I also wondered many a times why they sell all this pre-toasted bread stuff…. Not to worry about it though, you just gave me a break and I proudly proclaim that I have already convinced several American friends to learn to drink their caraffe d’eau without ice but only chilled. (Mostly because at those times I didn’t have sufficient amounts of ice cubes ready ;)
    A fresh orange juice def doesn’t need ice cubes.
    Interestingly I didn’t feel bad about the typos but in the morning I was quite mad at another blogger who couldn’t manage to write a restaurant’s name correct and made not once but twice typos… In your case it might have been tiredness and it’s forgiven immediately, in others’ it’s being lazy, careless, not interested.

      • eliZABETH

      It’s called being human…we need to forgive people for much more important faux pas’ than typos…

    • Gigi

    I lived in Paris for 6 years and used to buy the grocery store toast alot. Why? I had the type of job that took me out of the country for days every week and couldn’t shop that often. Normally when I ‘d get up in the morning I was too jet lagged to get dressed for a baguette. They were a nice thing to have on hand to get me started on the day. But they don’t taste just like dried toast, they have a specific taste, that really isn’t too bad with jam and butter. And they were quite tasty with tea in the afternoon too.

    • Taste of France

    I have hypotheses: hard, dry industrial toast is OK because it’s so unappetizing that you won’t overdo it. Warm bread, by contrast, is so good that it’s easy to eat an entire loaf before it cools (this has happened to me). Also, that melting butter on your warm bread/toast means you put more of it on. Voilà la brioche.
    The orange juice is tiny because it’s one orange, freshly squeezed.
    My husband has an obsession with ice. He about fell over in joy the first time he saw a big ice freezer at the front of a U.S. supermarket. I haven’t found any 20 lb. bags of ice cubes here (just little things, the size of a bag of peas), and even though we have a frigo americain, for parties we buy big bags of ice from a fish distributor where we have a filon.

      • Clare

      What is a filon?

    • Jayne

    Imagine my surprise as I had my first family breakfast in Avignon during my college study abroad — why would I ever want to eat last night’s baguette leftovers, crispy from a stint in the toaster oven before bedtime? By the end of the semester, I was enormously fond of this ritual — but only in that particular house. Over the years, I’ve tried to replicate that memory, but to no avail. So it’s back to the glorious butter on hot toast life in the US. Thanks for posting this story and reminding me of my wondrous new experiences of France back in the late 70s.

    • Betsyros

    My cousins would laugh with me when my elderly Italian father would toast his bread once and week and eat pieces every day for his breakfast. Rock hard toast! Now I see where he got that idea!

    • Sonja Kodric

    Musings on the ways of life – yes – I like that comment. Your sensibility is so civilized yet down-to-earth, lovely stuff.
    At least in connection with food we don’t have to listen to culture wars.

    • Nadia

    As you rightfully say, “to each his own”. The world would be boring if we all ate the same thing. I love hot toast with butter and marmite as a snack. Breakfast is Greek yoghurt and fruit.

    • Lynn Ziglar

    In our travels the worst early morning fare was a mound of cold boiled eggs
    in Russia.
    Think I can survive on French breakfast. Pass the marmalade!

    • maryanne

    David, great post and so funny. I am reminded of my Irish grandmother eating dry melba toast for breakfast when she wanted to lose a few lbs. Now my husband does it. I suppose you get a bread fix, but don’t have the desire to finish the whole loaf!

    • Toni

    David, Please don’t clean up any typos, as some of the editor-fans have suggested. I also am an editor and find your occasional slips adorable, humanizing, wabi sabi.

    Also, it’s through your Sweet Life in Paris and your posts that I’ve learned so very much about my own upbringing–by my French mother. Though she had a Spanish father and French mother, she always insisted that “If you are French and anything, you are French.”

    In other words, this is a heritage that goes deep in the genes and cannot be denied. Through your words, I constantly discover how French even I am, despite my American father and upbringing. The details you mention often shock me with their accuracy, when I thought they were only my mother’s idiosyncrasies: today’s cold, burnt toast, no ice in drinks, a horror at eating between meals, and so many others you’ve noted in the past, including the constant fashion-judging/shaming. (She lived mostly in Paris.) Though she’s now bedridden and barely cogent with dementia, these tics, and more, remain. She eyes my clothing every day when I come to check on her, dips her burnt toast, with its scraping of whipped butter, into black coffee, and comments.

    Thank you and keep observing and writing.

    • Judi Suttles

    Being from the South, I was raised on “oven toast”. My grandmother used to spread butter on a slice of bread and then put in a moderate oven. Only time we didn’t have this we had scratch made buscuits. I still make toast this way. In my husband’s family they call it “butter-baked toast”. It’s always served warm.

    • italian girl cooks

    Excess bread, any kind is pot belly-forming, or “Good Evening” (my husband’s Alfred Hitchcock joke). Artisan breads, please – room temp. or toasted warm; plain, with butter, evoo and garlic. Cold toast, not so much. Love this post!

    • Alexandra

    Most mornings, my Italian grandfather would cut slices from the leftover day old bread, toast and butter them and along with a cup of coffee called it breakfast. He delighted in dunking the bread in the coffee which is a truly delicious thing to do for those of us who are firmly in the “dunking” camp.
    As an adult now, I often have this same breakfast and I am reminded of those wonderful early mornings when I would sit with my grandfather at the breakfast table and share in this ritual. It’s still a simple yet perfect way to start the day.

    • Eileen

    I loved this post. Fascinating…
    And I found it amusing that bread would be toasted the night before it is eaten for breakfast. I’m with you on buttering immediately when toasted. I only wish I had your butter…

    • Lori

    Maybe cold toast is easier to digest than warm toast or bread? Not sure that’s enough to convert me. They do say to eat toast after the flu as part of the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, apples, and toast).

    Either way, I am like you, its death defying important to get the butter on the toast while its still warm so it can melt into all the nooks and crannies followed by a slather of peanut butter or marmalade. Delicious!

    • Amy

    You’ve hit on several of the things that have long puzzled me about my French in-laws. I’ve never understood the appeal of cold toast, since the whole point of toast in my opinion is for it to be warm. We do buy Cracotte or Crisprolls sometimes to keep around for the odd morning we are out of bread. They’re not too bad and strangely, I don’t mind that they’re cold.
    The ice thing I’ve gotten used to, though I can’t understand the dramatic reactions I’ve seen when my father or mother in law drinks something “too cold”. They say it gives them mal au ventre.
    But the coffee AFTER dessert has got to be the most puzzling to me. There’s nothing better than cake or pie with a cup of coffee!
    A question for you: When you have French guests, do you serve the coffee with dessert or after?

      • Amy

      Oh and I’ve also noticed that fruit and yogurt are strictly dessert, never snack or breakfast fare. Have you noticed this too? Maybe it’s just personal preference and not a general French habit. As a huge fan of breakfast foods, I am frequently confused by the French rules. :)

    • katy

    I love your observations. I remember once as an exchange student, when the host family’s young (maybe 8 yo) daughter, caught me rooting through the cabinets one mid-morning. She was horrified – Il faut jamais manger entre les repas!!

    She’s right, of course, but it was a strange idea to 14 year old me.

    • Kay Quirk

    When I lived in Switzerland above a bakery, I was cautioned about eating hot bread because the yeast was still working and I would get a stomach ache. ~Kay~

    • Mary

    You can buy bags of toasted bread by the loaf in Mexico City – and it’s produced by multiple large companies. During my semester there, I was amazed to watch my landlady and her mother dipping this store-bought toast into their evening cafecito, as they watched their telenovelas. They had never made their own toast – why would you, when you could just buy it from the store around the corner?!

    Must be a vestige of the French era in Mexican history (they do love their pastries and fluffy breads there!).

    • Cat

    Agree with earlier endorsement of wabi-sabi blogging, despite being a crack speller myself. It’s the lovely nature of the beast. We know you know.

    I received a toast rack as a gift, but use it to organize papers, as it is really a toast cooling/drying device.

      • Hope Anderson

      Wabi-sabi refers to objects, not grammar. It’s a uniquely Japanese term.

        • Nina

        It’s like “curating” which used to be a term used specifically for art museums and their curators. Now everyone is a curator. Wabi-sabi is being culturally appropriated and will soon be as generic a term as curating something. Sorry.

    • Agneta

    In Sweden, where I come from, we eat a lot of “cold toast”! Skorpor or Rusks in various flavours can be found by the bagfulls at IKEA for examle. They last for ever! I dry bread low and slow in the oven, when I have leftover’s and no room in the freezer. It is great with good butter and a cup of coffee ot tea:-)

    • plevee

    In Britain we use toast racks. Fresh toast, just cooled, leaves the toast soft and the butter doesn’t melt. A thick slice of cold butter lets the butter taste come through much more than when it’s melted – and it doesn’t drip.

      • Lynne

      In Britain you may use a toast rack, but others here like hot toast! You will be telling me you eat your crumpets cold next…

      • Lost in Japan

      YES ! I am french and I love the thick slice of butter, on a thin slice of bread. The butter of the french regions have all
      a different taste and it is lost when it melts. The best of the best a huge slice of country bread with a thick slice of butter topped with home made apricot jam stuffed with the apricots almonds……childhood memory as this bread does not exist anymore !
      David thanks for your recipes and comments which I enjoy so much.
      Also Wabi-sabi does not refers only to objects the meaning is much wider (this is to answer to Hope Anderson)

        • Hope Anderson

        I grew up in Japan and studied its culture, so I know what I’m talking about. I disagree with its use regarding grammar.

          • Sally

          Chill babe.

        • plevee

        Agree. It might because British and European butters taste so much better than American butters that we prefer the butter unmelted.

    • Becky

    Almost deleted the post before reading it because I thought how interesting or flavor inducing can a post about cold toast be?! I dislike cold bread with its hard edges and blandness. But this was quiet enlightening and entertaining! Thanks for the perspective! I agree with all your musings!

    • Rockyrd

    I am not an editor and I don’t care about the typos. So happy to read your blog and the info you provide. Thank you.
    Cold toast… Nah. Hot bread out of the oven doesn’t do it for me either.
    But love toast right out of my dualit- best toaster I have ever bought.

      • Iris Ahl

      Just goes to show why they make chocolate and vanilla. Some folks are bothered by grammatical errors and some are not. It is not a comment on David’s wonderful writing and wonderful blog. Don’t take it personally. I would hope David doesn’t.

    • paige

    my german husband was under the impression that warm cake was ‘unhealthy’ before i set him straight. i learned this when he refused to eat a piece of cake i had just made, and i almost fell over. and sure enough, his mother makes delicious kuchen, but i’ve never had the pleasure of tasting one warm.

    • Laura Bresler

    “Chaqun a son gout” became for my father “Chaqun a son mishegas” (craziness).

    • Wanda N.

    I enjoy your posts so much but the comments made by your unpaid copy editors tiresome. Keep up the great work.

      • Wendy

      Could not agree more with your comment, Wanda.

    • Sarah

    I call the pre-toasted bread in packages “lazy toast”. I like it as a snack once in awhile but nothing beats hot, freshly toasted bread with good butter with crunchy salt crystals melting into it with a cup of scalding hot, very sweet, tea (sometimes with a bit of cream). I guess that’s why I have a brioche of my own :)

    • Bob

    “my awkward fashion sense which means I am the only man in Paris that wear socks with his sneakers”

    There is fashion, which the insecure will chase, and then there is style, which a secure person has. Fashions come and go, but style is something either have or do not.

    As for the socks, I’m with you. It’s better for both my feet and my shoes. And those no show socks don’t want to stay on my feet.

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      My (fashionable) neighbor told me that they have low socks with little silicone or rubber tabs on the back so they don’t slip down. They’re €10 a pair at BHV and has been threatening to take me there!
      ; )

        • Tamsin

        You can get those socks for a lot less at Decathalon!

    • Sandra

    When I was growing up in the UK only “posh” people had toast racks and ate their toast cold and brittle. We poor folks toasted our bread on a toasting fork in front of a coal fire, fabulous!

      • KittyWrangler

      This reminds me of the 1830s-ish novel Wives and Daughters, where the father and daughter toast bread with cheese in their fireplace. Then the dad marries a social climber who forbids it on the grounds that cheese is vulgar and they’re acting like poor farmers. When she took away their cheese in the book I actually gasped.

    • karen

    i think i understand the mechanism by which warm bread causes a brioche: it is so much more appealing than cold toast, that one is compelled to eat more of it (written with a wink).

    • Judy

    When I was a child my mother would use leftover rye bread to make “butter toast.” She would fry the bread in butter and top it with kosher salt. Delicious!

    • Parisbreakfast

    I was thrilled to find Monop has ice cubes made from bubbly water!
    I don’t understand the banks of Krisprolls etc. either. You could break your teeth on them. One adjusts to some cultural differences like the crunchy salted butter and not to others.

    • BKS

    My mother-in-law, who was from Central Europe, used to say that eating bread out of the oven would give you a stomach ache. I never had that problem!

    I enjoy your posts, David. Thanks.

    • Sarah

    Making the toast the night before really cracked me up. It reminded me of the movie “Mother” with Albert Brooks. His mom is played hilariously by Debbie Reynolds. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a must. All the food stuff is especially funny. My family still laughs about “protective ice” “frozen salads” and “Kraft counts”

    Warm bread is one of the world’s oldest and greatest pleasures, what a shame not to enjoy it whenever possible. Cold toast seems sad to me. I always considered those “pain grille” to be crackers. They’re dry and crispy right?

    Do you ice fresh squeezed juice? I usually prefer that room temperature. And why are French hipsters called les bobos? I love the way that sounds. I’m going to try using it stateside.

      • Sandra Alexander

      “BOurgeois BOhemians”. Can’t write the abbreviation because Ipad spellcheck won’t let me! Not going to try the French spelling in case I get into trouble from the grammar gendarmes. Lovely post, thanks David. I enjoy them all, but especially the occasional ones that illuminate the cultural differences in the most mundane particulars – ice, salt, toast.

        • Kiki

        Sarah; I just learned something new today – I always thought it a cool abbreviation of Beau Chic, Bon Genre and now I know better. Many thanks.
        For anybody interested, here the Wiki link:

      • Hope Anderson

      Regarding “Mother,” who could forget her “food museum” in the freezer? My mother has the same thing.

        • June2

        omg mine too – instead of protective ice, it’s protective mold on everything ancient in the immensely full cheese drawer. “just cut that layer off, it’s perfect underneath!”. -_-

    • julibelle

    That photo of the toast and honey roared me right back to my San Francisco days when we were allowed to take Steve S.’ ‘day old downstairs bread’ home from Chz Panisse and lived on Buttered Toast. Buttered Toast. Buttered Toast. Toast w Tomatoes. Toast w cheese…

    • Katie

    I’ve never understood the rock hard, dry toast sold in French supermarkets either. I’ve always assumed that most sensible people just ignored it and ate fresh baguettes. Even worse than the old toast, are those (cold) melted cheese toasties that you can buy in many boulangeries. What’s that about?!

    • kmac

    Who knew one could learn so much about toast…i love your writing as is. I too love butter melting into every crevice but if cold toast will defeat the pot belly -i will switch today. Did you read Bobos in Paradise?? Funny book.

    • Vivien

    As some one who has lived in England on a farm as a child and now in my dotage live in Canada, I find I am a fan of both cold and hot toast with butter. There is a proviso however that the cold toast must have European style farmhouse cultured butter on it. I love bread and butter: the heel of a fresh loaf generously buttered and eaten out of hand, hot, buttered toast on a cold, winter morning with a cup of coffee while sitting in a warm kitchen watching the sun come up ,or, a piece of olive fougasse without either types of butter but eaten just for the sake of enjoyment.

    • tara@littlehomekitchen

    This is one of my favourite posts of yours so far! It points out how quirky everyone is, and I love that! Plus, the ending is brilliant. x

      • Donna

      Je suis 100% derrière la commentaire de Tara!!…Your keener-than-keen observations regarding French and American behaviors are spot-on and always extremely entertaining. This has got to be one of your BEST offerings! Perfect reading for vault-worthy warm toast breakfasts!!

    • Cecilia Almeida

    Love cold, hard toast, the kind that could kill someone if I threw it at them. I bought a toast rack recently..but I tell you they are made for when toast was “thin”..and ended up sending it back. I usually stand the toast up between cool…cuz if you lay it down it does not cool properly. It has to be dark,dark in color. Love to hear that crunch….You are wonderful keep up the wonderful e mails.

      • Hope Anderson

      I was given an antique silver toast rack as a wedding present, something I’ve used exactly once because I hate cold toast. It now serves a purely decorative function, and very few Americans know what it is.

        • Linda H

        Me, too. Pretty toast rack–unused.

          • Laurie

          I’ve seen those pretty antique toast racks used as napkin holders.

            • Linda H

            Good idea!

      • Ann

      Hooray, someone else who loves cold, crunchy but still freshly toasted bread. I usually leave mine in the toaster for around 10 mins after it has popped up. I do the same with crumpets. Spread thinly with salted butter and vegemite. Yum. On the same vein, I don’t like warm muffins, cake or biscuits (cookies) either.

    • Malynka

    I’m intrigued about the French and toast. Back in the 1970’s I was invited into the kitchen of a cafe on the French island of Noumea to show them how to make toast. They had never heard of it!

    Cold dry toast and black tea will settle an uneasy tummy but I am resolute about hot toast to follow freshly extracted vegetable juice and a bowl of fresh fruit.

    • Sally

    Hi David, love your blog and insightful view of France and the French.

    • GC

    According to one branch of my family (not the intelligent branch), eating hot bread was dangerous but combining hot bread with red wine could be fatal – One uncle swore he witnessed a relative’s belly explode from the combination that he attributed to the yeast in both the bread and the wine. The image was terrifying but even as a kid, it didn’t keep me away from a hot, crusty baguette or unsliced loaf of scali torn apart by hand and slathered with butter – or not.

    • Tanja

    Dear David,
    No harm in a few typos, are we not all human ? A blog isn’t a novel, it’s like a diary of thoughts and experiences you kindly share with us. Keep the spontaneity ❤️

    • Joyce @ Sun Diego Eats

    We have the dry toast things in Brazil too and I think they are really a separate food from fresh bread (or freshly toasted bread) not really a substitute for it but more of an alternative to crackers.

    And my mom also did the not-eating-the-middle-of-the-bread thing. So I got to eat a lot of ‘miolo’, to this day my favourite part of any bread.

    • Gavrielle

    I love (hot) toast so much I don’t have a toaster. Unsatisfied with the perfomance of any toaster I’ve ever come across, I bought a fancy benchtop oven specifically to make toast in. (It turns out to have other uses too. Who knew?) It’s still not as perfect as I would like, however. I dream of having a hotel toaster – they make the best toast ever. Why aren’t there domestic kitchen-sized versions? Woe!

    Particular thanks, David, for the story about Romain’s father, which made me guffaw out loud:).

    • Jade

    OMG! I thought my mom was an anomaly- she’s from Spain and insists that the middle of bread makes you fat and not the crust. Whenever we’re out to eat, she’ll leave the soft inner crumb and only eat the crust-drives me crazy. She won’t even listen to her baker/ food scientist daughter who might know a thing or two…

      • Caroline

      My Indian in-laws only eat the crust to avoid getting fat, and one of them used to be a food scientist!

      I’m surprised the French do this too. Isn’t it kind of vile to be digging out the inside of a dinner roll and piling it up on your plate, or am I the only one that’s grossed out by it?

    • Linda H

    I’m completely in the warm toast/melting butter camp. If it gets cold I stick it back in the toaster for a bit.

    • Cecilia Almeida

    Who would think that toast could interest so many people. I, too, was always told that hot bread was bad for the stomach….so funny and entertaining. When I have my toast in the morning with apricot jam I will smile…I do like butter, too!

    • tunie

    WEird…just finished a quick lunch of cold toast, which I never ever eat! It was sliced mana bread, an extremely healthy type of dehydrated (not baked) sprouted grain bread with lots of seeds. I spread it with a vegan cultured butter (miyoko’s), micro layer of sweet white miso, then avocado and a sprinkle of bee pollen on that. I know. but so good : )

    • Michelle

    As a long time crust eater (to make my very straight hair curly of course) in a family of non-crust eaters with very curly hair – I can now assert claim health justification too. They will continue to mock my preference but that’s what makes us all interesting – and I get their crusts! Loved the post – love learning others share my quirks and learning those of others. Heated orange juice – good grief!!!!!

    • Gina

    I discovered cold toast (pan tostado) in Mexico where it’s sold everywhere, wrapped in cellophane. It’s quite good with butter and jam, really.

    • June2

    Well in winter I HEAT my OJ and drink it like tea – it’s deliciously warming and bright on a cold grey day.

      • Michelle

      I think a lots of people will now try it

    • Annabel

    I agree with those who have said that biscottes bear absolutely no resemblance to cold toast, but are a rather delicious form of food in their own right. They are great with cheese, or with butter and honey.

    As for toast racks – how else do you stop the toast going soggy?

    • Stephan

    I was in Paris this past June/July and loved eating breakfast like a Frenchman with a croissant and a chocolat chaud. Like you I started in on my American cravings and I discovered near my apartment, a wonder diner called B.I.A. which stands for Breakfast In America. Hot toast, eggs made to order, hash browns, etc. Everyone was so friendly and you could chat with fellow vacationers and the wait staff even helped me with a problem I was having with my phone. If you want a big, American breakfast, this is the place. There are three location in Paris. Cheers, Stephan

    • Mary Fris

    It was fun to see a pic of a grocery store aisle in France…there are few things I find more enjoyable than perusing a grocery in a foreign country…a combination of culture, taste, art and habits all rolled into one.

      • Annabel

      Oh, how I agree with you! It’s amazing, for instance, how many different kinds of chocolate spread and of yoghurt they want to buy in Turkey….. quite my favourite form of tourism.

    • Christine Quigley

    I make ‘pan fried’ toast for my sweetheart, although it must be a Southern thing, since being from Brooklyn,I was totally unfamiliar with it. Butter bread on both sides, and ‘fry’ it. I cook his eggs on the same griddle as the toast. It’s delicious.

      • Annabel

      Now, that is what, in my childhood, we called “French Toast” – what you call French Toast was called Eggy Bread, and served savoury, not sweet, perhaps with bacon or grilled tomatoes. Serving it with fruit and sugar was unknown.

    • terri

    You made me curious, so I did some research. I’m not a scientist (although my undergraduate degree was in biology), but this is what I found.

    1. As bread cools, it starts getting stale. Scientists think that the process is caused by starch retrogradation. See here, for example:

    2. Retrograded starch is considered to be more resistant; resistant starch has a lower glycemic index. See, e.g.,

    3. Some studies suggest that foods with a lower glycemic index have a positive effect on obesity control. For example:

    4. Heating bread temporarily reverses the retrogradation. I can’t find a scientific paper right now, but all sources seem to agree on this, e.g.:

    Presumably, then, assuming that all the science is correct, there is a difference between hot and cold bread, and cold bread is better for your health.

    As for the crust:

    There is a difference between the crust and the crumb. Among other things, the crust undergoes less gelatinization than the crumb and has less starch. See, eg.,

    Presumably, this means that whether the crust is hot or cold, assuming one accepts the above science, it has less of the “bad” stuff than the crumb–so the crust is probably better for you than the crumb.

    You may not be able to access all of the links without paying–I have access through my school. If you want to see anything, let me know.

    Even if eating warm bread makes me fatter than eating cold toast, I’m still not going to give up eating it. (And I’m certainly not going to give up eating the crumb, even if the crust is better for me.) Life is too short not to enjoy it. I’m coming to Paris for the first time next month for a conference, and I’m planning on eating my own weight in bread and cheese. :)

      • Sally


    • Wendy

    For many years have been enjoying your stories both in your blog here and your books. I truly don’t give a darn about any grammatical errors since the purpose of your writings is to share your enjoyments, puzzlements, curiosities, successes and even the occasional failures. You’ve made me laugh at some of your willingness to share naivety of Parisian ways, feel sorry that sometimes you yearn for your home city of New York and sensed your growing happiness about all aspects of your life. So, any offers of editing your writing (except of course for your wonderful published books) is not necessary, please politely reject any and all offers of such, as I do think your connecting with readers on this blog would not be the same. Many have commented the similar sentiment. So, wanted to add mine too.

    Also, with mention of orange juice, ice or no ice, I’ve recently been adding the juice of a portion of a fresh lemon to the juice and with ice, it is such a tasty morning drink. Also for the winter months, it’s always good to add more Vitamin C to one’s diet.
    The cold toast leaves me just that – cold to the idea. When living in London years ago, at a hotel where breakfasts were served to guests, the toast was presented in a rack. Truly to add cold butter to cold toast every morning felt like a culinary torture. How I longed for warm toast buttered. The lodgings were temporary until a nurse’s residence found room for several of us nurses and once moved, had access to a toaster AND warm toast with butter. From torture to a fond memory.

    • Jeff Pulice

    1. I like the typos, etc. It makes me think of you starting to think in French; same thing happened to me (a little, at least) when I lived overseas.

    2. I cannot, absolutely CANNOT EVEN FATHOM the idea of cold toast. At my local place, the servers know that my pancakes/toast/whatever had better be hot enough to melt butter or it’s going back – and if it is nice and hot, of course, the tip goes way up.

    • Kiki

    I have to come back once more – was thinking of this post yesterday eve when we went to Paris for the evening and managed to pop in our favourite bakery @ Aligre to grab a still v. slightly warm baguette aux céréales. We didn’t even make it to the meeting point, it was SO good, crusty, crackling with delightful flavour-bursts between the teeth – sheer delight. Life is too short for not having the best bread we can.
    Also I thought that what we had when we were kids and sick: Zwieback – which is a doubly baked slice of light bread. There is one brand in Switzerland which absolutely makes the best and as children we often pretended to be unable to eat proper food just to make our mum go out and buy this Zwieback (2x gebacken)… Also, I tremendously enjoy your readers comments, they are so varied and often very funny, endless entertainment when life is not always a piece of cake. (I also used my English silver plated antique toast rack with only place for slivers of toast not real toast as a mail holder for some time. I then gave it to a French friend who swooned over it).
    Thank you so much, every time, for your kind sharing of slices of your life.

    • Sandra

    Jeeezzz, is this post about toast or typos???? Who cares (about the typos), enjoyed your post en enjoy toast the exact way you eat it, David…..

    P.s. hope I didn’t make too many typos in my comment……

    • Evans

    I think the cold toast thing has touched a nerve. I love toast that’s still warm enough to melt butter, too. But I also used to love eating cold Zwieback toast you could only find in the baby section at the grocery store :) Maybe the French and Italians like cold toast because their bread is so delicious hot or cold. The average American toast needs lots of warm butter for flavor (MHO)

    • Carol

    I love food traditions. Thanks, David, for all you add to our knowledge. (I didn’t even notice the typos, but I’m not an editor!)I know this blog is primarily about France, but my Mennonite grandmother (German by way of Ukraine) also insisted that bread was bad for you when it was still warm from baking. It would drive me crazy when she baked bread and I had to wait for it to completely cool before I could eat any. She seemed to be OK with warm toast.

    Some Mennonite groups also make a roll called “zwiebach” that is primarily eaten fresh. It is a smallish, rich yeast roll that has two parts a little like brioche although it is never made in a mold. Here the word “zwiebach” means “two-bakes” instead of “twice-baked” as in the zwiebach one finds in US supermarkets. To increase the confusion, stale Mennonite zwiebach is often sliced thin and dried in the oven. Pieces are put in a spoon and dipped into coffee. I was always told that when the Ukrainian Mennonites migrated to the US in the 1870’s they baked and dried zwieback and packed it into pillowcases for the ocean crossing.


      • KittyWrangler

      I’m firmly in the warm toast camp, but being sea sick on an ocean liner presents an excellent case for cold toast.

    • Yiri

    My morning toast must be warm and I double butter it! Once as soon as it pops out of the toaster to have the butter melt and about a minute or so later (usually the time it takes me to prepare my coffee) to have unmelted butter which I feel tastes better.

    • David

    When I first visited France unaccompanied (i.e. not with parent or teacher), I wondered why I got served with what seemed to be cold toast…what was the point of that?

    One idea is that toast was invented by us Brits to soften/melt the butter that was to be spread on it.

    My late father loved two slices of bread toasted side by side, so that the middle became moist. Then butter and Seville Marmalade. Although an accident one day lead to the discovery of Marmite* and Marmalade on a slice of!

    *Marmite, a Yeast Extract, a side-product of beer brewing, c.f. Vegimite from Australia, or Marks and Spensers appear to have just axed their “New” Brewer’s Paste.
    You either love it or hate it, hence a “Marmite” product or idea. I cannot get enough of it. The M&S or Oz versions aren’t bad, but I grew up with Marmite. I even have a steel lidded bottle of it, from the 1970s, unopened; it has deep resonances with my youth…

      • David

      Further to my comments, I was in a café today getting a rather poor coffee (waiting for a hire car to be ready), and saw something that I have now noticed mentioned above – fried bread.

      In the UK, this is served as part of the quote Great British Breakfast unquote, or any “fry up”, namely fried sausages, bacon, eggs, mushrooms, bread, tomatoes (the last depend on fresh or tinned), occasionally “Bubble and Squeek” (Potatoes + Greens, aka left-overs) plus heated items like baked beans. The bread is fried, and I’ve never seen it referred to as toast. No doubt also available with other sides and toppings. BTW, not usually seen Hash Browns, if I have got the name right, over here.

      I’ve never seen any bread other than Chorleywood process (aka “white sliced”) “bread” used for fried bread these days in any Caff [sic] , although the extra cooking does help make it more palitable – well, better texture, at least.

        • Wendy

        Have to comment, David, about your reference to fried bread. My dad, a butcher, would always take the fat part of ‘dripping’ from the Sunday roast the following Monday and use as melted fat for making fried white thickly cut bread. Once fried, he’d then take the jelly part of the dripping and spread it over the bread still warm so it would melt into the bread. The level of saturated fats in that treat I cannot imagine, but there I’d be a very young English girl, waiting for my Monday fried bread as a treat before dinnertime as a teatime snack. Can even remember the flavours today many, many years later. Of course, coming to Canada at age 6, didn’t mean leaving that culinary tradition behind as I grew older, it was still the Monday treat. Also grew up enjoying Bubble & Squeak often and loved the crusty edges of the fried potatoes. A fond memories and nice to share with you and readers.

          • David

          Hi Wendy,

          I’ve nothing against Real fried bread etc, other than it is not Toast. And yes, I too had dripping – albeit on toast – in days gone by. Perhaps not as regularly…

          Commercially, – any caff you go into – it’s all white sliced fried up these days.

          I have to admit that I once inhabited a “set” of Uni accom normally reserved for Upper Class Twits of the Year – not from choice. And yes, toasting forks, not a fryer in sight. Toast, not fried bread.

          I did cover myself with the “other toppings are available”… line ;-)

          As a birthday treat, I was recently given a day at a blacksmith’s forge,to make – a toasting fork!

          And my spelling is awful, I know it is, because I’m half deaf: “Squeak” for “Squeek”.

          These days, for family reasons, I have to be a little more “Irish”, and “Colcannon”, rather than “Bubble and Squeak”. Plus ca change.

    • kelleyn rothaermel

    The reason no one is getting fat eating cold toast is simply I can’t imagine eating a half loaf of cold toast where a warm loaf of bread could easily be so temping especially with warm butter the drips down your finger or Nutella. My husband is German and he likes his fruit warm. He will pull the strawberries out of the refrigerator and leave them for several hours along with his pot of yogurt. He says it has more aroma and flavor.

      • yannka

      That’s right! Strawberries are so much better if they never even see the refrigerator, much like tomatoes. But if there’s no other option I agree if definitely helps to let them come to room temp.

      I only eat cold toast when there are leftovers and I hate to see them go to waste. You can always re-toast it to heat it up but it remains mouthscratchingly dry and crumbly…

    • Lily Malick

    In reference to your question on bread. Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga, explains that the gooey nature of bread will make you feel dull and heavy, whereas the crust has more a light, dry, airy quality. Hope that helps!

      • Caroline

      Ayurveda isn’t science (but that explains my in-laws aversion to bread interiors).

    • Kathleen Rivas

    I’ve read many posts off and on through the years, but this one made me laugh. Oh the French and their ideas on what makes one fat…or not. Reminds me of a teen magazine I read many many years ago that said if you eat after 6pm, you will get fat. Even knowing the fallacy, I still fall into thinking that way. Crusts vs interiors and warm vs cold! Loved learning about this cultural quirk :)

    • Maureen @Raising The Capable Student

    I read this post while home from work with a cold. Of course, I immediately had to have some toast – hot with butter. Since I also need to lose a few pounds, I toasted almost stale sourdough bread. Hopefully, that was a good compromise between taste and health!

    • Jill

    This post is an adorable slice of intercontinental life.

    • moineau16

    I like my toast warm, with merlted butter! Do you know I”ve read about a diet where you can’t eat anything crusty ;)

    • Barbara Lane

    You have made me crave warm bread slathered with good butter. Cold toast? Made the night before? Huh. I can’t imagine…………

    • Sylvie

    This comment section has the most comical array of topics mixed together. I was laughing out loud reading it. Thanks everyone!!

    Always love your posts and pics, David.

    • Elaine

    I love hearing about your everyday life and eating. No need to edit…you are perfect as you are. Best wishes from New Mexico.

    • Karen

    Ah Brioche toast! Wish I could find in CA!

    • Eli G

    Bread belly and hot bread….
    Is simple!!
    When the bread is hot and is morning and you hungry… You eat more, so yes you get brioche

    • Emilia

    Dear David, as a long-time reader, I wanted to take a moment to mirror the common sentiment in the other comments: thank you for sharing a slice of your Parisian life with those of us not blessed with boulangeries around the corner. I love your blog – if I may reference Jerry Maguire – just the way it is. Your writing is engaging and tells a wonderful story – this, to me, is what matters.

    All the best from Canada!

    • Guy

    Science has debunked breakfast as an important or necessary meal. I suspect that concept was a marketing invention of the cereal industry.

    • Mrs Sage


    I guess the love for iced drinks is a typical (but of course not solely) American matter. I remember my struggle with iced drinks whenever in the USA and when I decided to order them non-iced the usual comment (though nice enough) was “You must be European.”
    Fette biscotate (IT) or zwieback (D) or prepecenec where I come from have been staples for as long as I can remember (and are not cold toast). The crucial difference in my opinion is that nowadays it’s produced much sweeter than it used to be decades ago. When I was a child we used to feed on it when we had gastrointestinal problems as it helped the irritation down there.
    As all your others posts this one too evokes an urge to let you know how much I’ve enjoyed your blog for several years but never commented. Ever. Anywhere.

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      Thanks so much for commenting. It’s nice to hear from people, such as yourself, who let me know that they’re enjoying the site. I have a pretty diverse group of readers and the comments on this post were an interesting read. Appreciate your kind words!

        • C. Almeida

        Zwieback was bought for youngsters that were teething. I used to give it to my daughter, who is now 52. And, it is still for sale here in the States. An co worker recently purchased it on Amazon, for her stomach upsets.

    • Maxim

    …and sometimes i put ice cubes in my beer.

    • C. Almeida

    Well, I dare you to come up with a post that is more entertaining, with more interested commentators, and more delightful than ‘TOAST’ .. who would have thunk??? I am smiling forever. When these comments appear on my computer I just love it, love it. Still like the cold toast and I guess after reading all those comments, guess it is because when the butter melts you do not taste the butter..but I still like the very crunchy aspect..thank you all so much for making so many smiles on this old face!!

    • Maggie L.

    I fall into the cold toast group – it’s how I’ve always eaten my toast, whereas my husband is definitely in the hot buttered toast group. However, we both agree that toast has to have the best salted butter spread on it. When my sons were young they used to call my toast ‘hospital toast’ :)


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