How to make French toast (and friends)

[while I’m in the mode of publishing old things (and cleaning out my computer), here’s something short and sweet I wrote in April 2014 for a campus travel mag. Bon appétit ! :P]

How to make French toast (and friends)
Su_Victoria_France_1

1 baguette, left to harden 3-4 days, sliced

“Don’t eat that!”

“Huh? Why not?” I was taken aback to hear my housemate and co-summer-intern, Alissa, rebuke me for trying to slice us some bread for lunch—we had shared every meal together since she joined the team two weeks ago, and, having been raised in a proper French household, she had always been extremely generous with her food, especially the bread. Besides, we were in Normandy, with a refrigerator full of yummy cheeses and marmalades, and here was this perfectly good, freshly bought baguette. It would practically be a sin not to eat it!

3 eggs, preferably from happy hens raised outdoors, beaten well

Alissa laughed at my bewildered expression and explained that she was leaving that baguette out to harden so that she could make pain perdu, or, “lost-cause bread,” more commonly known to Americans as French toast. “That bread is really poor quality anyway, I bought it just for pain perdu. Here, eat this instead!” She handed me a lovely loaf of pain aux olives, which I proceeded to slather in a happy layer of blackberry jam. Normandie, je t’aime !

brown sugar or honey to taste (3-4 spoonfuls suggested)

We left the baguette out for a couple more days until it was deemed a fully lost cause, too stiff to tempt anyone’s appetite (or anyone’s teeth, for that matter). Then, that otherwise lazy Saturday morning, we proceeded to salvage it.

2 cups of milk (or more, to taste, or until the bowl is three quarters full)

With a sturdy bread knife, Alissa sawed up the old baguette into big chunks and dunked them into the bowl of eggs, sugar, and milk, making sure each chunk was fully immersed. We went outside and had a nice morning rendezvous in the sun with the cows that grazed just outside our kitchen window. We chatted about the festival, the concert we had helped to organize on Wednesday afternoon and the upcoming one on Sunday; we talked about our homes, from her mother’s hearty French toast and blood sausage brunches to my mother’s regular family therapy sessions, where we sit together in a circle and affirm each other individually until everything dissolves into a sweet mess of tears and love.

Su_Victoria_France_5

butter, to grease the frying pan

Speaking of sweet messes, it was time for the last step—Alissa greased the pan generously with butter and fried each chunk of bread until they were a delicious golden brown on each side, and voilà ! Brunch was ready, à la française.

There’s nothing quite as simple nor as sweet as a plate of French toast to warm the heart (and the stomach) on a sunny Saturday morning in France! Of course, one of the best things about it is that this feeling (and taste) can be replicated anywhere, anytime, as long as you don’t forget the last few (and probably most important) ingredients on the list:

patience, laughter, and a friend to share the experience. 🙂

Who knew old bread could taste so good?Su_Victoria_France_8

//

Recipe & notes

1 baguette (or any kind of sturdy bread)

3 eggs

brown sugar or honey to taste (3-4 spoonfuls suggested)

2 cups of milk (or more, to taste, or until the bowl is three quarters full)

butter, to taste

a friend to share with, or a big appetite*

      1. Leave the bread out until it is hardened, but not too stale (hard enough to not disintegrate in the mixture, soft enough to slice); slice into chunks about an inch thick
      2. Beat three eggs in a large mixing bowl
      3. Add sugar/honey and milk and stir well
      4. Soak bread in mixture until fully drenched**
      5. Grease pan with butter and fry bread until both sides golden, approx. 10 min.
      6. Serve hot! Add butter, honey, or sugar to taste. Strawberries and other fruit also recommended.

*Don’t worry, this is also quite enjoyable even if you don’t happen to have a roommate to brunch with! Just keep in mind that it’s pretty filling, so either make less or make room!

**a minimum of 30 minutes is recommended; bread can also be left to soak in the bowl overnight in the refrigerator if you can’t consume all of it at once

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