Monday, September 14, 2009

Windy City Cooking: Week 7

(Ed.'s Note- Every Monday, Chicago's superlative chum Jason Hissong writes Windy City Cooking, a column about eating and preparing food in the City in a Garden. Enjoy! -Max)


Food Traditions: French Toast and Football
By Jason Hissong
13 September 2009

       Culinary traditions are one of my favorite aspects of food and thinking about food and today I celebrate one of my favorites: French toast and bacon while watching football.

       It’s the beginning of the NFL season. That, to me, means getting all the routine maintenance things- laundry, dishes, cleaning, etc- on Saturday. Because fall Sundays are reserved for football. And French toast. And bacon.

       Let’s talk for a minute about culinary traditions. They are, to me, hand in hand with some of my favorite memories and are intrinsically tied to family. Culinary traditions are a vital part of any culture, including the mutt American culture I celebrate. In the United States we even have an entire day devoted to celebrating the harvest in the fall in Thanksgiving.

       I’m an adult now, living on my own with a non-familial roommate, also named Jason. My family is disbursed between Omaha, St. Louis, and then the extended family in Texas, Arkansas, and Arizona. This means a couple of things. First, we can’t share culinary traditions with one another often. Second, I can create my own.

       The one I celebrated today for the first time this year is one of my own creations. It was an accident, really, and yet it’s one that I love. I don’t really eat this meal at any other point in the year. It’s comfort food at its best, savory and sweet and filling.

       My roommate must receive credit for teaching me everything I know about French toast. He’s the one that introduced me to the introduction of vanilla, and nutmeg to the mixture. I’ve since expanded the concoction, adding cinnamon as well.

       At this point I feel I have to address the most important aspect of French toast making: bread. It’s all about the bread. And the way I make French Toast is with a hearty bread. Challah, or brioche. Today I used a Vienna loaf. But the bread is important for texture, and absorbency, and taste.

       I make my mixture with three eggs and a bit of milk and a touch of vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon. It’s always delicious. So into the mixture my Vienna loaf went. Onto the griddle it goes, sliced, and dipped in the mixture.

       The other thing I love about this dish is that it doesn’t take a lot of time. I started my bacon in a separate skillet just a minute or two before the bread met the griddle. They were done almost at the same time.

       Bacon: no explanation needed. It’s bacon. I prefer a hickory or applewood smoked variety, but your mileage may vary. And one of the greatest benefits of bacon: it makes your kitchen smell lovely all day.

       So there it is. Football. French toast, and bacon. One of my favorite created culinary traditions. One of my favorite things to make. And certainly one of my favorite things to eat.

       What I’ve cooked this week: French toast and bacon.
       Where I’ve eaten this week: The Ultimate BTH Club at The Pick Me Up Cafe, Buffalo Chicken Wrap at Tuscany.


  1. Boy, do I love french toast and bacon.
    Sundays, eh? What a nice day to take a walk to North Center...