Lyrical question: Sting's "Englishman in New York"

In the first verse of the aforementioned song, Sting says, “I like my toast done on one side.”
Can someone with a bit more culinary knowledge than myself tell me what this means?

Just that. I’m not sure why, but traditionally in the UK toast is toasted on just one side, not on both sides like in the U.S.

Huh. Well, there you go then. Thanks!

So, do the English own toasters that only toast one side of the bread?

Hence the impetus for the now famous"Boston Toast Party" of 1773, in which colonists disguised as Sailors, Police Officers and Construction Workers boarded a British merchant ship moored in Boston Harbor and tossed a shipment of some 300 tons of one-sided toast into the sea.

Oddly enough, Sting wrote the song about Quentin Crisp- and if you know who Crisp is, you also know that his preference is toast was the LEAST unconventional thing about him!

too cheap to buy a new working toaster? :confused:

I’ve heard that the soft, untoasted side of the bread offers better marmalade/jam rentention, while the other, toasted side provides the requisite crispiness. And some recipes for British food (such as Welsh rarebit) specifically dictate only toasting on one side, to allow the sauce to stick properly.

Plus back in the day, one could only toast one side at a time anyway.

I can’t help with the OP, but I’m having problems with some of the responses given thus far.

I’m English, born and bred, aged 45, have lived in many different parts of England and visited many more besides. I have never in my life seen or heard of anyone toasting bread only on one side. Both sides, always, every time.

Yes, we do have toasters, and yes, they work in the normal way - toasting both sides of the bread at the same time. Before toasters were common, most people made toast by putting bread under the grill. But we always turned it over and did the other side as well.

Here’s Sting’s video of that song (hope the link works):

Quentin Crisp is in it.

Toast is toasted on one side if you use a grill (broiler) to make the toast rather than an electric toaster. One sided toast is rather nice as it has a variation in texture not found in double sided toasted toast.

I’ve always heard the lyric as “both sides” and you were the strange ones.

oops “thought you were the strange ones”

Same here (though I’m a year or two younger). I think the best that can be said is that some people in England prefer their toast one-sided.

In all my life, I’ve known one (1) person who had bread toasted only on one side as the default. I don’t know if it’s in any way significant, but he was born in Wallsend – the same place as Mr. Sumner.

I’m not sure this is particularly true, or if true, is particularly widespread.

I think the lyric is just intended to convey a sense of peculiarity; in other words “I’m a quirky, out-of-place sort of guy, and everything I do serves to demonstrate it”

“‘Welsh rabbit’ is funny and right. ‘Welsh rarebit’ is humorless and wrong.”

In an interview with VH1:

VH1: Which lyrical phrase are you most pleased with: “Put on the red light,” “I like my toast done on one side,” or “Nothing comes from violence, and nothing ever could.”

Sting: The one about the toast, I think. It’s never been said before!

Just FTR, when I was young, we had a toaster that did just one side. It wasn’t a pop-up, it had hinged sides to hold the bread, and a vertical grill in the middle, between the slices.

We still turned the slices over to do the other side, though, if anyone’s interested.

I always assumed the one-side-toast thing was to highlight that Crisp was eccentric (taking a walking cane everywhere, capes, etc), not just that he was English.

Never heard of it.

Though before the invention of the toaster or grill, it was common to use a toasting fork and an open fire - a common cliché from public school. Perhaps a hungry schoolboy would eat his toast as soon as one side was done, and the other warmed?