If you want to visit the birthplace of french toast, you won’t need to know how to speak French!
The origins of french toast are not entirely clear, but long before this sweet snack was called “french toast,” similar recipes were being whipped up all around the world. One of the earliest versions of french toast has been traced back to the Roman Empire.
The name “french toast” was first used in 17th-century England. The recipe — and name — were brought to America by early settlers.
In France, the dish is called “pain perdu,” meaning “lost bread.” Why lost bread? Originally, people made French toast from stale bread in order to make use of bread that would otherwise have been thrown away.
To make french toast, you first dip slices of bread in a mixture of beaten eggs, milk, cinnamon and vanilla. Then you fry the egg-coated bread in a pan until browned.
Some people recommend slicing the bread the night before and letting it dry out a bit overnight to keep the bread from absorbing too much egg and getting soggy.
In the United States, restaurants usually serve french toast with butter, maple syrup and powdered sugar, but the possibilities are endless. French toast can be topped with just about anything.
Popular toppings include powdered sugar, maple syrup, jelly, jam, honey, peanut butter, applesauce, whipped cream, fruit, yogurt, ice cream and nuts. Savory (not sweet) french toast can be topped with bacon, cheese, gravy and even ketchup!
People use a variety of different breads to make french toast. In the western and southwestern United States, many cooks prefer sourdough bread. Within some Jewish-American communities in the New York area, people use leftover challah bread from the Sabbath dinner for french toast on Sunday mornings.
Around the world, people enjoy french toast in many different ways. The British call french toast “eggy bread,” “gypsy bread” or “french-fried bread.” And sometimes they serve it with ketchup.
The people of New Zealand prefer their french toast served with bananas, bacon and maple syrup. Australians serve up a savory version of french toast with cheese and tomato sauce. The French consider “pain perdu” a dessert, not a breakfast food.