I have French toast for breakfast fairly often, and a thought hit me today: Is it as French as the French fry? Which is to say, not even remotely so? So I peeped in Wikipedia, and here's what it had to say about some food that I'd suddenly become curious about.
French toast is not French. Surprise, surprise. According to the International House of Pancakes, French toast predates the 1st World War, and was called German toast in English speaking countries. Then the Kaiser did his thing and no-one liked Germans anymore and it "became" French. You know, because it happens to be next door. Or something like that. Wikipedia mentions that the French actually have their own version:
In France, Belgium, New Orleans, Acadiana, Newfoundland and the Congo a similar but distinctive food 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.
I think I like the sound of that. Hell, I like the look of it...
For the benefit of those reading who don't already know this, French fries are not French. Apparently they date back to 17th century Belgium, and were consumed by peasants living the Meuse Valley in place of wee little fishies. They became French following exposure of American troops to the Belgian troops during World War I. French was the official language of the Belgian army at the time, and the rest is history.
French dressing is not French. I was informed of this fact by a rightly indignant French chef. Apparently the term was invented in the late 19th century to keep American tongues from butchering the word vinaigrette.
And since I'm here, Welsh Rabbit is not rabbit. Wikipedia has a charming little story to go with that:
The first recorded use of the term Welsh rabbit was in 1725, but the origin of the term is unknown. It may be an ironic name coined in the days when the Welsh were notoriously poor: only better-off people could afford butcher's meat, and while in England rabbit was the poor man's meat, in Wales the poor man's meat was cheese.
You may be familiar with the term as 'rarebit' as opposed to 'rabbit'. Apparently this is the fault of Francis Grose, who coined the term erroneously in his 1785 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue* and, in the manner of certain memes, has managed to stick.
And now I'm off to do the litter. Oh, teh horror...
*Available for free on gutenberg.org!