A couple of years ago food psychologist Dr Christy Fergusson gave us a fun opportunity to look at ourselves from our the point of our toast preferences.
The basic idea is that the more burnt coloring you prefer on your bread, the more likely you are a detail oriented person who tends to be patient. The bitter taste is a sign of a tendency to by judgmental and self critical. The lighter your bread? The more easy going, and spontaneous you are, with a tendency of always feeling rushed or overwhelmed. The people who can manage a perfect golden shade, and who point blank refuse to eat anything less than perfection-worry the most about what other people think. They tend to take pride in appearances and being efficient.
How do you like Your Toast?
While fun, this kind of oversimplification makes it way too easy to process information. It doesn’t allow us to really see the person. The problem is anyone can use an internal reference chart to assume they know something about the other person. It happens when we assume women parking in a spot reserved for veterans did not serve. It happens when we restrain Americans on the assumption that the tint of their skin color means they are not one of us. There are many more examples but the point is when we do this we are projecting our expectations from an internal reference chart. When the reality is we are using a tool not equipped to give us enough information about the people around us.
A good example is my grandfather. He was a sweet old man that often ate his toast black. I could say he had a critical eye that was tempered through the years, but the real reason I think he ate burnt toast? He lived through the depression and couldn’t bear the idea of wasting food. If we burnt our toast he switched it with his and said he preferred it that way, with a twinkle in his eye. And we believed him.
I myself used to enjoy a darker shade. It seemed to help hold the melted butter perfectly in place. After my mother died from her battle with cancer, I learned that overcooking your food can be one of the factors to shortening your life and started enjoying warmed or lightly toasted bread.
What we Left on the Table
Used alone, the information is insufficient.
There is nothing on these toast charts that includes the layers of context that give our life an insight into our depth of character. If we rely only on these restrictive and undeveloped ideas about our fellow human beings, we handicap ourselves. We destroy our ability to understand and trust each other. It is no wonder we tend to think other people are dumb animals. Sure. From time to time we all do dumb things. But we tend to justify our own similar behavior because we understand more about our own layers and abilities than we do a complete stranger. What we really need to do is update our internal charts on a regular basis, in a way that makes room for ourselves as well as other people to change their preferences. Eat your toast. Drink your coffee. Whatever you do, don’t assume you know someone based on their preferences. Get to know them beyond the toast!
I recently shared this picture with my friends on Facebook and it was interesting to see their preference and how that compared with other similar choices.
I wonder, how do you like your toast? How does your coffee preference match up?
And have you always liked it that way, or has it changed?