Thursday, June 16, 2011

FruDiddy and the Lost Bread

When The Frugal Hostess was a little girl, her father was in charge of making breakfast every day.  After The Frugal Hostess and her sister had their hair curled by FruMa, they would skip downstairs to sit at stools pulled up to the kitchen counter and eat the breakfast that FruPa (aka FruDaddy, and perhaps soon to be known as FruDiddy – stay tuned) had prepared.  Their mother was, ahem, not a morning person

Sometimes, breakfast would be quick and easy, like Froot Loops or the far more common Raisin Bran.  Sometimes, it would be downright horrifying, such as when FruPa decided to try out his new-fangled microwave by zapping some “cheese” “toast,” or Kraft American cheese singles on white bread.  A microwave is to cheese toast as a rabid dog is to a kid’s birthday party – a good way to make children cry.

So, you know, sometimes breakfast may have sucked.  But sometimes, it was sublime.

The best breakfasts involved bread.  Exhibit A: cinnamon toast.  This was white bread that was spread thickly with, well, probably margarine in those days (the Eighties, dorks; TFH ain’t that old).  FruDaddy mixed up white sugar and powdered, not-at-all-fair-trade cinnamon in a little bowl and sprinkled it all over the buttered (margarined?) bread, which was arranged on a sheet pan, and toasted it in the oven.

Another yummy bread breakfast was essentially this same cinnamon toast with sliced bananas on top.  Do note that the bananas weren’t sliced in the familiar coin-shaped way, but rather length-wise.  The Frugal Hostess attributes this strange banana shape to her father’s New Orleans upbringing and Catholic school training.  The bananas may have been cooked in a pan with butter first.   

Every time FruPa made this item, he told the little girls about a mythical dish from his childhood called banana fritters.  Somehow, he made these sound like the most magnificent puffs of unicorn breath imaginable, but he never did make them for TFH and her sister, ostensibly because he was waiting for the recipe from Grammy, his mother.  In truth, he no doubt preferred to spend the eleventy hours they would probably take to prepare sleeping, since he was a high school teacher with a 7am daily start time.

In terms of mythical dishes from childhood, The Frugal Hostess actually did have another of her father’s youthful favorites, although this was only ever prepared on weekends.  He said that his father (also a New Orleanian who grew up speaking French with his grandmother) always called it pain perdu, or lost bread, but that his little girls could call it French toast.  FruDaddy made his with the ubiquitous white bread that he preferred, and he served it not with syrup as you see in most brunch restaurants but with a metal shaker of powdered sugar.

The Frugal Hostess could have made enough icing to frost a house with all the powdered sugar she shook onto her French toast.

These days, TFH’s sister serves French toast for brunch at her restaurant, made from thick cut pieces of French bread sliced on the diagonal.  The Frugal Hostess made it that way today, using half a loaf that was getting too hard to cut.  She tried to get FruHubs to buy her a sugar shaker when he was picking up the bacon to go with it, but he “couldn’t find one.”  Ha.

It couldn’t be easier to do; just slice the bread and dip it in a mixture of eggs and milk, with the amounts governed by what you’ve got.  FruHo used four eggs and probably a cup of milk to make ten or so thinnish pieces.  Melt some butter in a skillet – TFH used about three-fourths of a stick divided between two cast iron pans – and cook until brownish and yummy looking, flipping as needed.  This can be kept warm in a low oven while you make Ooooh Fruit (a recipe for another day) and bacon.  Eat with powdered sugar, and enjoy!
Happy Father’s Day, FruDaddy!



  1. Thank you for this wonderful walk through the olden days. One point that I can't resist, though, is that I always included a cup or two of granulated sugar in my pain perdue egg mix. Ideally, you fry the bread enough that the sugar crystalizes, and that's when it's really good. It's also why you don't need syrup--it's already sweet enough to support two dentists.

  2. Not a Morning Person? Your daddy was worth his weight in gold! I'm not a morning person either (in fact, I have been known to throw breakfast in the trash in a storming temper tantrum, I'm ashamed to say), but I've mostly managed to survive it after 32 years of fixing it. Did your mother enforce the "don't speak to me or else" rule in the morning? Always a handy one to have.

  3. Maybe you should try making French Toast with pumpkin bread or zuchini cake -- already dense and sweet, they still soak up the egg mix and make a pretty amazing dish. Credit goes to Miss Glenda for this version.
    Mr. Bill

  4. My dad made the exact same cinnamon toast. Good times, good time.
    I love french toast, too and make it very often.
    TOO often.
    Says my butt.


  5. And by good time, I meant good times.


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