POSTED: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 - 10:37am
UPDATED: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 - 10:49am
(CNN) -- Whether swimming in syrup, dusted with powered sugar or stuffed to the gills with fruit, French toast has had a recurring role on breakfast tables for many years - or possibly even centuries. One of the earliest references to the recipe dates back to 4th century Rome in the recipe book, "Apicius."
The Oxford English Dictionary traces the etymology of "French toast" to 1660 in a book called "The Accomplisht Cook," even though the recipe omitted the eggs which gives French toast the custard base that we love so much.
Luckily, you don't have to know the history of French toast to appreciate the simplicity of the recipe. Slices of bread, preferably Challah or brioche, are drenched in an egg and milk mixture, and fried to a golden crisp in a pool of melted butter. You can add vanilla extract, orange juice, cinnamon, nutmeg or even eggnog, but just make sure that the bread is day-old so that it soaks up all that lovely egg mixture without breaking apart.
Apparently no one is immune to the buttery goodness of French toast. The French call it pain perdu (or lost bread) since the recipe lets you reclaim older or forgotten bread. In Spain, you'll hear French toast referred to as torrijas while people in Germany call it arme ritter. People in England devour eggy bread while Hong Kong-style French toast calls for bread to be slathered with peanut butter or kaya jam before being battered and fried.
Whether called pain perdu or arme ritter, French toast proves that it's just as sweet by any other name. Make sure you say "oui, oui" to seconds if you're lucky enough to enjoy this buttery, delicious treat today.