I am thrilled to present this guest post by Ann McCallum, author of the book Eat Your US History Homework. To check out the review, click here. Ann is the also the author of Eat Your Math Homework, Eat Your Science Homework, Rabbits Rabbits Everywhere, and Beanstalk: The Measure of a Giant.
The English call it French toast. The French go by the name pain perdu—translate that and it literally means “lost bread.” This delicious treat is named for the main ingredient, stale bread, that might otherwise be thrown away.
Rewind back to the mid-1700’s in America. New towns and cities were popping up all over, and the Native Americans were being pushed further west. Many French immigrants were involved in the profitable fur trade. They traded with the Native Americans for animal pelts such as beaver, mink, fox, and otter. The fur was shipped to Europe where it could be made into felt which was then made into clothing, especially hats. (Those traders were busy beavers!)
Also sharing the continent were the English colonists. They weren’t so involved in the fur trade. They mostly wanted a place for English men and women to settle. They were busy clearing land, building towns and cities, and planting farms. More and more English colonists came to America and more and more, the Native Americans and French were told to butt out!
Both England and France wanted control of the whole American continent. Neither side wanted to share—not even with the people who were there first, the Native Americans. Pretty soon, the two countries declared WAR.
One important stronghold changed hands several times. While British soldiers trekked through the wilderness toward the French held Fort Duquesne (Du-KANE), they often hunted or gathered berries and nuts. The food the army provided (corn meal, beans, boiled peanuts, and bacon) wasn’t exactly delicious. Worse, the hardtack given to soldiers was a kind of twice-baked cracker that was so hard, you could chip a tooth on it if you weren’t careful! Meanwhile, the French inside the fort had much better food to eat, even pain perdu. What would YOU rather eat?
Try this recipe for “Lost Bread” and learn about history at the same time!
Before You Begin
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 2 minutes per slice
Total time: 23 minutes
Oven temperature: n/a
Yield: 4 slices (2 servings)
2/3 cups milk
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Day-old bread, cut into 1-inch slices (challah or other firm bread works well)
1 tablespoon butter
Whisk or fork
Pie plate or another deep dish
Sturdy nonstick skillet
1. Whip eggs in a bowl with a whisk or fork. Add milk, sugar, and vanilla and pour into the pie plate.
2. Place the bread slices in the egg mixture and allow them to soak up the liquid.
3. Turn the bread over to allow the other side of the bread to absorb the mixture.
4. Melt a little butter in a nonstick skillet. Place soaked bread slices in the hot skillet. Cook each side until browned.
5. Remove the bread using the spatula and serve immediately with maple syrup drizzled on top.