Uncommon Knowledge: How French is French toast?

Toast Coasters | UncommonGoodsThe history of French toast, like the food itself, is rich but not very transparent. Similar recipes date all the way back to ancient Greece. There is written record of the food in medieval England, but with a French name: pain perdu. That title, which means “lost bread” in reference to how battering could make a stale loaf palatable, is still used in America’s Cajun country. When the term specific phrase “French toast” first appeared in the 1660s, it was referring to a cooked bread that had been soaked in wine and fruit juice, rather than an egg dip. And when the dish as we know it now started to grow in popularity in 19th century America, it was just as likely to be known as “German toast,” “Spanish toast,” or simply “egg toast.” It is generally agreed, however, that the all-American version of the food—a New York innkeeper named Joseph French invented the recipe in 1724 and named it after himself—is unlikely to be true.

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Written by Nathan

Nathan is a copywriter, who helps create our product descriptions as well as our weekly emails. He is also a nationally award-winning musical theater writer, whose work includes an adaptation of Lois Lowry’s novel The Giver. Nathan has also been a classical violinist, tutored Kazakhstani jewelers in entrepreneurship, created large-scale games played across entire city blocks, served as a missionary in South Korea, conducted experiments in sonoluminescence, co-founded an exotic fruit-growing business, was a theater critic for Tucson Weekly, and as a teenager composed a women’s jazz quartet that is currently performed around the world.

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