Home Career Q&A: Why do we raise a “TOAST”?

Q&A: Why do we raise a “TOAST”?


Every week here at the Australian Writers Centre, we analyze and debate, twist and deny, question and gasp at the English language and all its rules, regulations and absurdities. It’s a celebration of language masquerading as passive-aggressive whining about words and quirks. This week we’d like to raise a toast to…

Question: Hey AWC, I was at a wedding over the weekend and I have a question.

A: No, catching a bouquet does NOT legally bind you to a subsequent marriage.

Q: Oh, not that, but good to know. It occurred to me during the performances. In particular, why do we “raise a toast” in these situations? Is it related to what I put vegemite on?

A: That’s a good question, because the idea of ​​raising a drink in unison (usually in honor of the gods) dates back to the ancient Greeks. But it was called “toast” much later – and not earlier than it was the first way of toasting black bread.

Question: Yeah! So was toasting the bread original?

A: Yes, a wonderful discovery. Best thing since they cut it.

Q: How long have we been talking?

A: The French had a say toaster in the 12th century – a verb with the meaning “to fry, to fry, to fry, to fry”. By the late 1300s, it had entered the English language as “toast,” meaning “to brown from the heat.”

Q: So the verb came first?

A: That’s right. The thing you put Vegemite on took a few more decades to take hold, and the noun “toast” has been recorded since the early 1400s.

Q: Of course I wouldn’t put Vegemite on it then – the jar tells me it’s only been around since 1923.

A: Well, early toast (aka “toast”) wasn’t a breakfast option anyway – this modern practice didn’t become a thing until the 17th century. It used to be really eaten with wine and beer.

Q: Oh, the plot thickens! Looks like we might have stumbled upon our wedding toast, huh?

A: We are certainly on the right track. You see, in the 1600s, toast wasn’t just a bar snack, it was actually put into a mug of ale. Toast with spices was often used, which gave alcohol an additional aroma.

Q: So people were literally drinking toast?

A: They were. Technically, both ale and bread contain yeast, so maybe it’s not that unusual.

Q: Hey ding ding ding Vegemite too!

A: Yes, very well. The concept of “proposing a toast” came about in the 1690s, but you didn’t just sing a toast to anything old like we do today.

P: To freedom! And to the small but expensive cups with ice cream!

A: Yes, none of that. It was a specific act aimed exclusively at beautiful women. The idea of ​​adding spiced toast to your mug was to symbolize the woman as you drink to her health – hoping that it would taste especially good in your cup.

Q: What a very complicated way to wish someone well.

A: Indeed. In particular, one origin story states that a beautiful woman was swimming in the waters of Bath when a drunken man dipped his cup in the water and drank it for her health. His sidekick tried it too, but decided he preferred the soggy bread, declaring that while he “doesn’t care for the drink, he’ll happily eat the toast.”

Q: Sounds like a fun night.

A: And so the verb “toast” got its second meaning from 1700 – “propose or drink a toast.” And since then, drunk parties have not been the same.

Question: “propose a toast” or “raise a toast”?

A: It can be either – they are used almost interchangeably. Generally, “propose” can be used more to announce that you are going to do so (“Um, I’d like to propose a toast”), while “raise” can be the act itself of inviting others to raise their glasses (“so join me in a toast to our hosts!”). However, there are no hard and fast rules – some even say “make a toast”. Just be consistent.

Q: Speaking of dipping toast in liquid, what is French toast? Is it even French?

A: Ahh, well this one is much older, dating all the way back to Ancient Rome – with the first recorded recipe (soaking bread in milk and/or egg and frying it) from an early Roman cookbook 2,000 years ago.

Q: Oh, this is old. There was probably a method in the recipe that said, “First open the fire, then heat evenly.”

A: Haha, not really old. In any case, the Romans knew this dish as “pan dulcis” (fragrant bread), but over the centuries it lost its semantic connection with the former empire.

Q: When did the term “French toast” come about?

A: It seems to have been England in the 1630s, perhaps influenced by King Charles II’s love of all things French. A more colorful theory holds that it was an early 1700s American innkeeper named Joseph French who actually named it after himself, omitting the pesky apostrophe-S at the end.

Question: And the French? What do they call it?

A: They see the dish as simply using bread that has lost its freshness – hence their name, “pain perdu” – lost bread.

Q: Well, thanks for letting me dip my bread into your cup of knowledge. I would like to propose a toast to learning something new!

A: Actually, French toast sounds better this time of day.

Q: Can we put vegemite on it?

A: No.

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