One of my favourite foods/snacks growing up was eggy bread. There was nothing like coming home from school – in my case after hours in the local library – to make this wonderful little dish to warm me up and provide more fuel for the second round of studying that I would inevitably start. Not much changed once I left school and university. When I left home and started work as a junior doctor it was one of my go to meals after my gruelling daytime shifts. Easy to make before I crashed out into bed. Now, there is a lot less of that, yes I am tired but I often have to cook for two people when I get home, so I do not get the luxury of this one person feast. This morning, however, I had a craving for eggy bread, maybe I was feeling homesick, nostlagic, I don’t know. Nobody else to cook for – two eggs and two slices of bread later I was in heaven.
This ‘dish’ is also known as French toast, German toast, gypsy toast, poor knights (of Windsor), Bombay toast and Torrija. Like many of these things there are as many variations of making this as there are names. ‘Pain perdu’ is the French term which literally means ‘lost bread’ – reflecting its use of stale or otherwise “lost” bread. A common story about French toast is that it was created by medieval European cooks who needed to use every bit of food they could find to feed their families. The bread could still be used when moistened and heated, so these cooks would have added eggs for extra moisture and protein. The Spanish version is Torrija is usually made by soaking stale bread in milk or wine with honey and spices. It is dipped in beaten egg and fried with olive oil. It is often sprinkled with cinnamon as a final touch. It is believed to have originated in Andalusian Convents during the 15th century as a way to use up stale bread. These are very popular during Lent and Holy Week. The Indian version includes fried onions, coriander, diced tomatoes and sometimes chilli, this sounds heavenly – a real solid breakfast item.
All of these versions get my vote of approval and will definitely be making an appearance in my little kitchen.