We’re not exactly sure where French Toast originated, but historians were able to trace a recipe for a similar dish, called pan dulcis, back to 4th century Rome. It is thought that it was popularized as ‘French toast’ when French immigrants brought pain perdu to America. These days, almost every region has their own version of French toast, and it can be sweet or savory.
Some countries eat it as a breakfast meal, while for others, it’s a sweet and indulgent treat. Whether you call it gypsy toast, eggy bread, Bombay toast, or poor knights, there’s sure to be a version you like! Here are a few examples of how it’s eaten around the world.
Crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, sweet French toast makes the perfect dessert. Pain perdu means ‘lost bread’ and describes day-old bread slices soaked in a vanilla custard, made by mixing eggs and milk. It’s then fried in butter and topped with powdered sugar, whipped cream and berries. Brioche is a popular bread choice for French toast in France.
If you’re a fan of PB&J (peanut butter and jelly or jam), then you’ll love this adaptation. Thickly-sliced white bread is covered with peanut butter and stacked on top of each other. It’s then dipped into a mixture of eggs and vanilla essence and fried in butter. It’s usually served with a drizzle of condensed milk or maple syrup.
In Britain, eggy bread can be served either as a sweet or savory dish, although the savory version seems more popular. As with most variations, it starts with bread soaked in an egg-and-milk mixture, which is fried until golden-brown. The Brits enjoy it with Marmite (a spread made from yeast extract) or tomato sauce (ketchup).
In America, French toast is eaten as either a breakfast meal or a side dish (or even brunch!). The Americans prefer using Jewish challah bread for French toast as it’s dense enough to soak up all the custard. It’s served with butter, maple syrup and a dusting of powdered sugar. They love French toast so much that they celebrate National French Toast Day each year in November.
New Zealanders love French toast (seriously, who doesn’t?). They prefer their French Toast with sliced bananas, bacon, and a drizzle of golden syrup!
How do you like your French toast? Sweet or savory?