Here at eHow to Make French Toast, we are all about showing you a variety of ways to prepare this delicious breakfast meal. Yet many people have never considered how this morning treat came into existence. In order to get a complete grasp of our recipes, we decided to delve into the storied history of French toast.
A Breakfast by Any Other Name
French toast is known by a number of names including Poor Knights, American toast, Spanish toast, Easter toast and eggy bread. In Cajun circles, French toast is known as ameritte or pain perdu. In England it’s called Poor Knights. This is because, since only the wealthy were served dessert, the lesser class knights would eat their Poor Knights bread, what is similar to todays French toast, with jam. In China, it is called by two names; Western toast or French toast, and it is deep fried and served with butter and syrup.
How to Make French Toast
French toast recipes were found in cookbooks dating back to the Middle Ages, making some speculate that the meal had been invented sometime before that. Cookbooks were held by the wealthy only and the poor were unlikely to have learned form them. Instead, the working class would pass down the recipe form generation to generation, making it hard to pinpoint the exact time of origin.
White bread, which the first French toast recipes called for, was the finest bread available at the time. In Roman times, French toast was called la Romaine, or Roman bread, and was served with honey. It probably earned the name “French toast” from the French pain perdu, which loosely translates to lost or stale bread. Some believe French toast is the precursor to bread pudding.
Although the exact origins of it are unclear, some believe it came into being in medieval times when cooks would be compelled to use every ingredient at their disposal because they were too poor to throw anything out. Therefore, stale bread would be moistened, most likely with eggs or milk, and then fried so as to be made palatable.
The earliest mention of French toast in the United States is in 1871. Legend has it that it was sometimes referred to as German toast prior to world war two, but the name was changed due to anti-German sentiment. Another popular story is that it got its name in 1742 from Joseph French, an Albany, NY restauranteur who named his version of the recipe after himself.
One thing is certain, these days French toast is a popular American breakfast tradition. It is served sliced in sticks at fast food restaurants, in big thick fluffy portions at diners, and in the homes of most Americans. Many families have at least one member who claims the title of “best French toast maker” with recipes and secret ingredients that they hold dear. However you slice it, French toast is here to stay.
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