How do you say “rabanadas” in English?



Don’t you dare say ‘French Toast’!

Rabanadas are almost like French toast…but hey!… they are not French…they are ultimately Portuguese and every Portuguese Christmas table proudly displays “rabanadas”…

This type of “pain perdu” recipe is quite common in many countries…. where there was bread, there was “pain perdu”, lost bread…

The use of ‘old’ bread is so common that the earliest  reference to French toast appears in the Apicius, a collection of Latin recipes that dates back to the 4th or 5th century…

The term Apicius comes from the bearer of the name: Marcus Gavius Apicius, and  has long been associated with  refined appreciation for food.  Marcus, a Roman gourmet and lover of refined luxury, lived sometime in the 1st century AD. He is often considered to be the author of the book that is erroneously  attributed to him.


The text is organized in ten books:

  1. Epimeles — The Careful Housekeeper
  2. Sarcoptes — The Meat Mincer
  3. Cepuros — The Gardener
  4. Pandecter — Many Ingredients
  5. Ospreon — Pulse
  6. Aeropetes — Birds
  7. Polyteles — The Gourmet
  8. Tetrapus — The Quadruped
  9. Thalassa — The Sea
  10. Halieus — The Fisherman

The fried bread recipe was inserted in The Gourmet book.

Clearly, there are many translations and variations for this dish…as frying stale or old bread was a common strategy to upgrade taste and make what was once “perdu”, lost, a heavenly delicacy…

Here is the Portuguese way…that is, rabanadas…which ..of course…are unique…

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 tablespoons sugar
1 cup of vegetable/olive oil
4 eggs
1/4 cup luke warm milk **
8 slices of white bread

(** some more recent variations use cream or condensed milk instead of plain milk)

Combine spices and sugar and set aside.
Heat vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat.

Whisk together the spice mixture, eggs, milk and pour into a shallow plate. Dip the bread into this milky mixture and then dip  in the egg mixture …fry the egg-coated slices until golden brown,  flip to fry the other side.

Let the slices rest on parchment paper so extra oil is absorbed and toast do not get a soggy feel…rest is king…..

Typically these slices are sprinkled with cinnamon and white sugar.

Recently a creamy smooth egg sauce has been added to many “rabanada” recipes…also raisins or nuts are added…


(first) 10 things to eat in Portugal…

1-Caldeira de Peixe / Fish stew
Should you be in near a coastal area, fish stews are really a must-have! They are delicately seasoned so the taste of the fresh fish can prevail. Eating Portuguese fish stew is like taking a bite of the sea!
Restaurants near the coastal regions are probably the best choice, Nazaré, Figueira da Foz, Mira, Costa Nova and Espinho are famous for their fish stews…

2- Leitão/ Roasted piglet
Best Leitão can be found in the centre of Portugal, specially in the town of Mealhada. I am particularly keen on the Restaurant “Rei dos Leitões”- you will not forget this gastronomic experience. Leitão is roast piglet scented with garlic and pepper…mouthwatering…

Bean stews are very popular! You can find them on many menus, particularly at lunch time: seafood bean stew, pork bean stew and even octupus bean stew (my favourite!)!


4-Cozido à Portuguesa
cozido port
Unique combination of beef, pork, chicken and sausages generously cooked with cabbage, carrots and potatoes. Sounds boring, right? Wait until you taste it. Nothing like a Portuguese cozido…

5-Bacalhau à lagareiro
I would say my parents’ house is the place to eat the best grilled cod in Portugal….I am lucky! Whatever, one thing is for sure..If you see the word “lagareiro” on the menu…it is goooooood!!!!


6-Línguas de Bacalhau / Cod fish tongue
Cod fish tongue. Yes, cod fish tongue. You might be asking how big can a cod fish tongue be, right? Well big enough to have an overwhelmingly fresh sea flavour…You can have these made in rice, in a soupy pasta or pan fried…


7-Sardinha assada
This dish is not available all year round…summer months are the best, when sardines are fat and plump! Portuguese, no doubt…


8-Arroz de Marisco / Seafood rice
Coastal restaurants will treat you to a perfect seafood rice. I suggest a small restaurant located in the seaside town of Praia de Mira called Tézinho. Seafood is served in a miniature boat and a pot of rice is served on the side!


9-Arroz de Polvo / Octupus rice
Not easy to find on the menu, but if you are lucky enough to encounter this dish…indulge…


10-Queijo da Serra e marmelada /Cheese from Serra da Estrela
Mouthwatering combination. Portuguese marmelada is made from melts in your mouth with the cheese…(and red wine, of course)…