This is a tale of culinary history and indulgence that will make your taste buds tingle and your mouth water. Meet Aliter Dulcia, a Roman “French” toast recipe that's been tantalising palates for over 2000 years.
Have you ever wondered where French toast comes from? Well, if you're like most people, you might assume that it was invented in France - it's right there in the name, right? But the truth is that French toast existed before France even existed!
Originally created by the ancient Romans, Aliter Dulcia was a sweet and savoury dish made with eggs, milk, honey, and sometimes even wine. The Romans loved their food as rich and flavorful, and this dish was no exception. It was often served at banquets and feasts, where the wealthy would indulge in its decadence and lavishness
This first "French" toast recipe actually appeared in a Roman cookbook called "Apicius". This ancient cookbook, also known as "De Re Coquinaria," is attributed to a foodie named Apicius however, there were several people with the same name who existed throughout the Roman Empire's long span, so the author's exact identity is uncertain. The earliest known copy of his cookbook is from the fifth century, although it's suspected that the original dates back to the first century. And since then, the book has undergone a myriad of notating, translating, and updating.
So what did Apicius' recipe for "French" toast look like? Well, according to Project Gutenberg's translation, readers were instructed to slice bread, take off the crust, soak it in eggy milk, fry it in oil, and smother it in honey. Toasted bread is mentioned in other dishes in the cookbook, such as milk toast and roast suckling pig with honey, but not explicitly in the recipe for "French" toast. And naturally, the word "French" doesn't appear in the original text, since its etymology traces back to the 13th century.
Fast forward a couple of centuries, and Aliter Dulcia made its way across the world, where it became a breakfast staple. The French perfected the recipe, adding a touch of cinnamon and serving it with fresh berries and whipped cream. It was a favourite of kings and queens, who would enjoy it in bed, surrounded by opulence and luxury.
But what makes Aliter Dulcia truly special is its longevity. This dish has stood the test of time, surviving wars, revolutions, and ever-changing culinary trends. It's a testament to the fact that great food never goes out of style.