Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
French toast is popular as a breakfast main course in North America. It usually is served with maple syrup, though it can also be served with fruit syrup , whipped cream, powdered sugar, or nuts such as pecans. It is also popular in China, where it is called 西多士 (pinyin: xīduōshì) and usually served with honey. In Hong Kong-style western restaurants and Hong Kong or Taiwanese dessert cafés , it may be served with butter and without a sweetening ingredient. French toast is usually served with the bread crust , but may be served without.
French toast is made with bread (generally pre-sliced) and eggs; some also prefer to add milk or orange juice and spices. In restaurants (at least in the United States), the bread is usually thick bread made especially for use in French toast; when made at home, regular sliced bread is often used.
Many people prefer to use breads that contain dried fruit as the bread base for French toast. Other spices that may be used include allspice, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Vanilla may also be added to the egg mixture.
The precise origins of the recipe are unknown, but similar dishes have existed in many countries and under many names. In medieval Europe, it was called suppe dorate in England and tostes dorées in France; more recent French terms are ameritte and pain perdu ("lost bread"); in Spain it is called torrija, fattiga riddare in Sweden, arme riddere in Danish, arme Ritter in Germany, and "poor knights of Windsor" in England. In America, it has also been called "Spanish," "German," and "nun's" toast.
Some people claim that this dish was called "German toast" before World War I and was changed to "French toast" in the US because of anti-German sentiment. A popular cookbook from 1918 does refer to it by that name. However, the term "French toast" can be found in print in the US as early as 1871. The Oxford English Dictionary cites usages of "French toast" in English as early as 1660 (toasted bread with wine, orange juice, and sugar), and cites an egg-based recipe of the same name from 1882. It has also been called "American" toast in the US, where there is a story that it was invented in 1724 by a man named Joseph French in a roadside tavern near Albany, New York. In early 2003, the name of French toast was changed again to "freedom toast" in the White House, the US Congress, and in a few US restaurants, this time due to anti-French sentiment stemming from France's refusal to support a war in Iraq. (A similar thing happened to french fries, which were called freedom fries in those places. In reaction, the French embassy merely commented that french fries are, in fact, from Belgium.)
- Odilie Redon et al., The Medieval Kitchen: Recipes from France and Italy (Univ. Chicago Press, Chicago, 1998).
- John F. Mariani, The Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink (Lebhar-Friedman, New York, 1999).
- Craig Claiborne, Craig Claiborne's The New York Times Food Encyclopedia (Times Books, New York, 1985).
- Fanny Farmer, The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book (Little, Brown and Co., Boston, 1918)
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