Spanish toast; or, Rôtis à l’Espagnole

A “picayune” was a small Spanish coin, now obviously obsolete. Between 1793 and 1857 it was legal tender in the USA, worth about 6 cents. The coin lent its name to a newspaper published in New Orleans from 1837 to the present day – a newspaper which obviously originally cost one picayune.

At the turn of the century (the 19th to the 20th, that is), the Picayune newspaper published its own collection of New Orleans cuisine, “The Picayune’s Creole Cook Book” (1900). The work was inspired by the thought that traditional creole cookery, a combination of French and Spanish tradition, was disappearing – “soon will the last of the olden negro cooks of ante-bellum days have passed”, the introduction lamented. The book was popular and a second edition, which I am using a reprinted copy of, was published in 1901. The author of the work is never mentioned.

“The Creole Cook Book” is a wonderful repository of recipes and cultural anecdotes and I will certainly be returning to it. This time around, due to a late night with friends and a somewhat shaky day after, I chose to cook something hangover-friendly. Spanish toast is essentially French toast, but with one important difference:

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You can’t go wrong with rum.

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Here’s what you need.

The recipe calls for one cup (2½ dl) milk and one gill (1,4 dl) rum. Now, I know I just said you can’t go wrong with rum, but you can go wrong with too much rum, so I reduced the amount to about a third of the recommended dosage.

It was perfect. Mix the ingredients and soak your bread slices in the mixture. Unless you really do use stale bread you shouldn’t soak for quite so long. We were starving so we didn’t dry the toast, either, we just sprinkled on some cinnamon and nutmeg and ate it.

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It was good.

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