It is her favourite breakfast. Days-old bread soaked in warm milk, lightly coated in beaten eggs, then fried in olive oil until golden and finally sprinkled with sugar (and too much sugar would never be enough, of course!). Also known as French toast, I have always called it torrijas, and I still recall my parents frying torrijas of a cold winter morning, sometimes accompanied by thick hot chocolate.
These days I simply use French sticks (which I allow to ‘age’) from the supermarket, but the best are always the ones made with Pane di Casa, thicker Italian-style loaves you can cut into any shape that takes your fancy.
We had perfected some sort of family comedy routine. When the plate was full, I would sit at the table and stare at them, at Clea and her two younger brothers, and very seriously declare my breakfast was ready, so what were they going to eat for brekkie? She would immediately reply in an indignant tone: ‘¡Son para todos!’ They’re for everyone, they’re to be shared!
I still make torrijas as often as possible. Her brothers have elsewhere declared it one of the best foods in the world. I still will sit at the table, place the big plate in front of me and announce that my breakfast is ready, and what is everyone else going to eat?
I still hear Clea in my head, crying out that the torrijas are for everyone, indignant at the sheer injustice of her father promising to eat all of them by himself.
How can such a sweetly perfected family comedy routine vanish? Why?
I’d pour tonnes of sugar over them if that could lure her back, and I’d feel no guilt or shame for giving my child all the sugar she wanted. Just this once.