Rabanadas began centuries ago in the midst of the Catholic holiday, Lent. Since many gave up meat, Portuguese Catholics found themselves eating more bread. As a result, rabanadas were born from an effort to preserve and make use of all the bread, stale and fresh alike.
You may notice that French toast and rabanadas seem suspiciously similar. In fact, rabanadas are sometimes referred to as “Portuguese French toast.” According to Google, both of these sweet toasts seemed to have popped up during the same period in history, sometime around the fifteenth or sixteenth century. While no one knows if the idea originated with the French or the Portuguese, more likely than not, they influenced each other.
Through cultural transmission and perhaps even cultural hybridity, soldiers, nobles, and others traveling between the two countries likely led each culture to influence the other, mirroring Appadarai’s ideas about the ethnoscape. Still, there are some differences. To name just a few disparities, the way rabanadas are cooked, the type of bread used, and other methods of preparation set them apart. Of course, the most important difference between rabanadas and French toast is the Port wine reduction. Though don’t be fooled for a moment — Port wine is a major import in France and has become an integral part of French culture for many!