Sunday Times Books LIVE Community Sign up

Login to Sunday Times Books LIVE

Forgotten password?

Forgotten your password?

Enter your username or email address and we'll send you reset instructions

Sunday Times Books LIVE

Crime Beat

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Crime Beat: French Toast and Poor Knights

bad copof cops&robbersAs we all know crime fiction is less about the violence and gore and more about what the characters eat and drink and how they dress and what cars they drive. German krimi guru, Philipp Elph, who has a really good blog,¬†KrimiLese, recently got in touch to ask about a reference in my novel Of Cops & Robbers – renamed Bad Cop in German -¬† to ‘arme ritter’.

The reason? Well, there are two occasions when the main character Fish Pescado swings into his favourite hang-out in Muizenberg, Knead, for a cappuccino and ‘arme ritter’. (An aside: he is about to change his venue to Tiger’s Milk the really zooty place that’s opened up next door. Very much his style of establishment, and it’s upstairs so the view is something to behold.) Back to arme ritter.

As everyone knows (admittedly, some of us have to do a bit of googling first) arme ritter is German for French toast or pain perdu. Now the morsel Fish consumes rates highly on his (and my) breakfast menu because it is the standard recipe of old bread soaked in a mixture of beaten eggs and cream or milk which is then fried and topped with fried crispy bacon and fried banana (this last is probably SA’s contribution to the famous dish). Over this is poured a generous helping of syrup.

Philipp was interested to know if this concoction really was served at Knead and what it was called. Once he knew, he responded:

“That’s it! I know it from my grandma, but only as the sweet version, not with fried bacon. In Germany Arme Ritter does not have a good reputation. It is known as a kind of poor cake and hasn’t been popular for about 50 years when the famous German Wirtschaftswunder started. Maybe, South African French toast is more delicious than the piece I remember. Here’s the recipe, found in a German collection of recipes.”

Arme ritter translates as “poor knights” and the Wikipedia entry for French Toast has it that the German recipe dates back to the fourteenth century. Had a hard time of it did those poor knights.
of cops& robbers dienners & donnersof cops&robbers


Please register or log in to comment