French Toast – Does It Have Italian Roots?


You don’t have to be French to enjoy French Toast. How did this breakfast treat get its name anyway? Well there’s quite a controversy going on the web concerning this. Here are two different answers according to Answers.Com.

“It wasn’t actually made in France. Some think it was discovered in a Italian-Latin recipe book in the 4-5 century: the Apicius. It was simply entitled (translated from Italian) “Another Sweet Dish”. In Germany it is called Armer Ritter, which means poor knight. Back in Medieval times the knights didnt have enough money for meat, so they soaked their stale bread in egg and milk and cooked it. In Hungary it is called: Fluffy Bread. In Spain they soak it in wine instead of milk for extra flavor. In Italy they put tomato sauce and cheese. In Belgium they put ice cream on it as a dessert.”

I do like this answer put an Italian twist to the origin that may or may not be true. If it was considered a sweet dish back in the 4-5 century, I can’t imagine the Italians putting sauce and cheese on it. Seems odd even though Italians have been known to put sauce and cheese on about anything.

Or you might like this answer better:

“The name was not given to the recipe by the French but the actual recipe dates back prior to 16th century in France as it was and is called “pain perdu” or lost bread. It was a way of using bread that had gone stale and would otherwise perhaps be thrown away. Stale bread, eggs and milk have been put together by the cooks of many countries.”
So I don’t know who or what to believe, but the makings of this dish is the same: a way to use up bread – old or stale. However, I use good bread – not old or stale – to make my French Toast. 
Essentially only four ingredients go into this recipe: eggs, milk, vanilla and sugar. A sprinkle or two of cinnamon adds a nice spice to the toast. 
Soak bread in the egg/milk mixture.
Cook in a pan brushed with butter.
Top the French Toast with your favorites. Maple syrup, fruit compote, or fresh berries, all are delicious! My favorite today was drizzling a little strawberry and zucchini jam on top. 
Here’s the plain and simple French Toast recipe I’ve been using for decades.

Serves 2

French Toast

Recipe makes 4 large pieces of toast

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  • 4 slices of bread (your favorite variety- I used a thick egg bread)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Dash of cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 pat of butter to brush on skillet


  1. Preheat skillet to hot.
  2. Whisk eggs together until frothy.
  3. Add milk, vanilla, and sugar and stir together.
  4. Dunk each slice of bread into egg mixture, coating both sides.
  5. Brush the skillet with the butter a few seconds before adding the bread to the pan.
  6. Place each piece of bread in the skillet carefully - not touching the other pieces of bread. Sprinkle with cinnamon if you like at this stage or wait until serving.
  7. Cook each side until desired doneness - golden brown on the outside, not mushy on the inside.
  8. Serve immediately with favorite toppings.


If I'm cooking for more than two people, I double the recipe and as the toast gets done I put it in an oven warmer to sit until all the toast is cooked. If you don't have an oven warmer, heat a toaster oven and turn it off when you add the toast to keep warm.


Calories: 270 cal
Carbohydrates: 32 g
Fat: 9 g
Sodium: 363 g
Cholesterol: 194 g
Protein: 13 g
Fiber: 2 g

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