17 January 2010


My wonderful roommate Maffo made me some French toast this morning!
The result: a whole slew of blag ideas! and a delicious morning.
I asked, is French toast really French? He said, I think so. In French, it's called pain perdu. That means lost bread. WHY is it called that?

Also, powdered sugar. He met a Spanish girl in Finland who didn't know what powdered sugar was. Do they have powdered sugar in Spain?? I don't know! But in Mexico, they do. It's called azucar glas. WHAT? Why?

Ok, here we go.
According to the International House of Pancakes--that's right, IHOP, French toast is not necessarily French in origin; it is likely that the recipe dates back to medieval times and may have been a logical "invention" by different peoples, akin to battering and frying any food. Supposedly it was originally known in England and America as "German toast", prior to the First World War, when it was changed because of anti-German sentiment.

But I think it's even older than that. A version appears in the 4th century Roman cookbook, often attributed to Apicius, "Aliter dulcia: siligineos rasos frangis, et buccellas maiores facies. in lacte infundis, frigis [et] in oleo, mel superfundis et inferes." - "Another sweet: Break grated Sigilines (a kind of wheat bread), and make larger bites. Soak in milk, fry in oil, douse in honey and serve."
It turns out now, variations of French toast are popular all over the world. The names also vary from country to country; however, "lost bread" seems to be a popular name for it in countries' respective languages. In France and other Francophone places, it is called pain perdu, or "lost bread", since it is a way to reclaim stale, "lost", bread: hard bread is softened by dipping in a mixture of milk and eggs, then deep fried.

About powdered sugar.  Well, first of all, in reading the variations of French bread around the world, I read that in Spain, it is called torrijas and is typically made during Lent, out of thick slices of bread soaked in milk or wine, dipped in egg, fried and then drenched in spiced honey. No mention of powdered sugar... so I *guess* I'll buy that they just don't have any there.

Powdered sugar is essentially sugar that has been pulverized--made into a powder. I translated around to a handful of languages and the respective names for powdered sugar all reflect this. EXCEPT IN SPANISH. It's called azucar glas. Why? Glas in this case is short for glaseado, which means glazed--which makes a lot of sense seeing as how the primary purpose of powdered sugar is for making glazes and frostings, really.

Glas is really the Spanishization of the French word glace (pronounced the same way) which means frozen. Like frosting. Zomg it all comes together now.

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