One of America’s Favorites – Milk Toast

July 3, 2017 at 5:04 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | 2 Comments
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Simple milk toast consisting of toasted buttermilk bread covered in white sauce with a dash of cinnamon

Milk toast is a breakfast food consisting of toasted bread in warm milk, typically with sugar and butter. Salt, pepper, paprika, cinnamon, cocoa, raisins and other ingredients may be added. In the New England region of the US, milk toast refers to toast that has been dipped in a milk-based white sauce. Milk toast was a popular food throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries, especially for young children and for the convalescent, for whom the food was thought to be soothing and easy to digest. Although not as popular in the 2000s, milk toast is still considered a comfort food.

 

 

 

The food writer M. F. K. Fisher (1908–1992) called milk toast a “warm, mild, soothing thing, full of innocent strength”, and wrote, of eating milk toast in a famed restaurant with a convalescent friend, that the food was “a small modern miracle of gastronomy”. She notes that her homeliest kitchen manuals even list it under Feeding The Sick or Invalid Recipes, arguing that milk toast was “an instinctive palliative, something like boiled water”. Fisher also notes that for true comfort, a ritual may be necessary, and for Milk Toast people, the dish used may be foolishly important. Her favorite version of milk toast has the milk mixed 50/50 with Campbell’s condensed cream of tomato soup in a wide-lipped pitcher called a boccalino in Italian Switzerland where she got it.

 

Milk toast prepared with condensed milk

In the Southwestern United States
In New Mexican cuisine, milk toast is referred to as leche cocida, meaning cooked milk. Toasted bread is torn into chunks and placed in a bowl. Milk is cooked with a small amount of butter, salt and pepper and is poured over the bread. It is a meal associated with using up excess milk, perhaps from the days of milk man service, in this region.

 

 

 

Milk toast’s soft blandness served as inspiration for the name of the timid and ineffectual comic strip character Caspar Milquetoast, drawn by H. T. Webster from 1924 to 1952. Thus, the term “milquetoast” entered the language as the label for a timid, shrinking, apologetic person. Milk toast also appeared in Disney’s Follow Me Boys as an undesirable breakfast for the aging main character Lem Siddons.

 

 

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  1. My dad’s version was tearing a slice of white bread into pieces and pouring milk over it. No one but him liked it.

    • My Dad does the same thing!


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