Endless speculation abounds about why battered and fried bread slices are called ‘French’ toast, but never is there an appropriate response to the question ‘Why is it called French Toast?’ What’s french about it??
Yes, it’s National French Toast Day. So let’s lay waste to the ongoing debate about the French-ness of French Toast.
The earliest understanding of how this dish came to be is to look as far back as the northern French Normans who created a dish called ‘tostees dorees‘ that was a battered and fried bread. It was similar to a popular dish in England in the Middle Ages that was named suppe dorate, and is considered a knock-off of the Normandy dish. Ironically, in France and Belgium currently, you can get Pain Perdu, loosely translated as ‘lost bread’. The egg mixure that is allowed to soak into the slices is a way of reclaiming old, stale bread, or lost bread and making it edible. So the Normans from France did apparently create a similar dish to the current manner of French Toast, but are they really the ones who should be credited with the discovery? According to many sources, the initial documentation of the dish is known to be at the time of Henry the V of England (1413-1422). Definitely NOT French.
There are dozens- I mean, dozens- of variations of this dish in all countries around the world:
- Austria: Pavese (a medieval type of shield whose shape resembles a slice of bread)
- England: suppe dorate (Italian for “gilded sippets”)
- France: pain perdu (literally, “lost bread”)
- Germany: Armer Ritter (literally, “poor knight”; the name is sometimes meant to originate from poor knights in Medieval times, having not enough gold to pay for meat, and thus eating old bread slices, coated with egg and fried )
- Hungary: bundás kenyér (literally, “coated bread” or “bread with fur”) [<— mmmm, yummy]
- Portugal: rabanadas or fatias douradas (literally, “golden slices of bread”)
- Yugoslavia and some successor republics: прженице – prženice
- Croatia: pohani kruh
- Lebanon: pain perdu
- Catalonia: torrades o croquetes de Santa Teresa (literally, “toasts or croquettes of Saint Theresa”)
And then there are so so many more that it seems silly to post them. It’s not French and barely can claim any French origin. But it is delicious. Especially with homemade lemon curd.
I had a loaf of sourdough bread that I chopped up for croutons to put in my Thanksgiving stuffing and there were four good-sized slices left over that were just crying out to be made in Egg Bread. (hehehe- I’m not calling it by that name) The lemon curd-which you’ll have to come back tomorrow to read about- was just a perfect topping for the warm slices sprinkled liberally with powdered sugar.
I know that everyone has their own manner of making Egg Bread and what goes into the batter but I’ll just tell you my version anyway. Eggs and milk (vanilla soy milk- ooooh yummy like a milkshake) and a tablespoon or two of cinnamon sugar and some fresh ground nutmeg. The sugar crystals in the batter help with caramelization. I have also made my batter from vanilla or banana yogurt with excellent results. I’m not really a syrup girl but I do like honey drizzled over the slices, or I spread them with fresh fruit, jam, apple butter or simply a little melted butter.
Well there’s TWO days left of National Blog Posting Month and my November desk calendar is criss-crossed with hash marks as I have methodically checked off the days and their corresponding food holiday. It’s been a great deal of fun with plenty of good learning but I’ll tell ya, I am looking forward to stepping away from the computer for a while and re-grouping before getting back into something of a more normal blogging routine. For those of you who have stuck with me through this adventure, I thank you profusely and hope you continue visiting.