At the Original Pancake House, one of our favorite brunch menu items is French toast. In fact, we love it so much, we offer four different types on our breakfast menu including Sourdough French Toast, Seasonal Berry French Toast, Cinnamon Almond French Toast, and the Denver breakfast favorite, Banana Praline French Toast.
With French toast on our minds, we were wondering, where did this delightful dish originate? We were intrigued to find that, though the name implies a French origin, the first mention of this meal appears in Roman times. In a cookbook attributed to Apicius, from the 4th or 5th century, a recipe simply called “aliter dulcia,” or “another sweet dish,” describes soaking
bread in a milk and egg mixture, frying in oil, and then serving with honey. French toast next appears in medieval cookbooks throughout Europe. In France it was called “pain perdu” or “lost bread,” which probably referred to the fact the cooks used stale or old bread in this dish. German, English, and Scandinavian cookbooks refer to the dish as “poor knights” bread, which is also a nod to the use of ol1d bread.
The first references to this ancient dish as “French toast” appear in the late 18th century in North America. In New Orleans, the dish maintained its original French name of “pain perdu.” However, in English speaking areas of the North American colonies, the dish became known as French toast as it was popularized by French immigrants.
So the next time you are out for breakfast in Denver, share the ancient history of French toast with your fellow diners. It is a fascinating story!