That’s right, in the United States, this is how we translate Torrija, the Semana Santa food par excellence. But wait, let’s go step-by-step here. Semana Santa, which we could call ‘holy week’ or Easter week’ is not really a concept like it is in Spain. Sure, we celebrate Easter Sunday, but other important days, like Holy Thursday or Good Friday are not holidays.
Take a look at some key vocabulary:
Holy week, Easter week – Semana Santa
Palm Sunday – Domingo de Ramos
Holy Thursday – Jueves Santo
Good Friday – Viernes Santo
If you live in a city with a large Latin American population, like New York or Los Angeles, you might be able to see a procession. In general, though, they are not very common in the U.S.
Which brings us to the torrija.
Looks good, doesn’t it? And it doesn’t look exactly like the French toast you are used to. Why do we even call it French toast? Legend has it that all varieties of this decadent sweet come from the French tradition of pain perdu or ‘lost bread’. Leftover, hard bread was soaked in milk and/or eggs and then fried in oil or cooked in butter. In Spain, this tradition dates back to the 15th century. Is it French? Is it Spanish? Well, apparently the earliest reference of this type of sweet goes all the way back to Roman times. Wherever it came from, several things are clear:
It is a very popular Easter tradition in Spain.
It is delicious in all of its varieties: with sugar, with port wine, with honey, with cinnamon…
The tradition was taken to South America and can be found throughout.
So, if you live in a place with a large Latin community, maybe you can find some. Add it to chocolate eggs or ham and asparagus as a new Easter tradition!