Milk toast is pieces of toasted with bread in a bowl with warmed milk poured over it.
It is often prescribed for people who are ill, particularly with ulcers.
To peak their interest in what is admittedly quite bland food:
- some would put butter, cinnamon and sugar on the toast;
- some would sprinkle chopped parsley on it;
- to be fancy, you can cut the crust off.
The milk is usually thickened with a bit of flour.
You make a paste from a bit of water and flour, then add it to the milk in a pot, then heat gently and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring constantly. Season with salt and butter. Put toast pieces, dry or buttered, with or without crust, in a bowl, and ladle the milk sauce over it, and serve.
From this dish comes the adjective “milque toast”, to describe someone who is unassertive, mild, timid.
The expression came about partly because of a character named “Caspar Milquetoast” (created in 1924 by Harold Tucker Webster, 1885-1952, for his comic strip “The Timid Soul”.) The strip appeared every Sunday, until Tucker’s death, in the New York Herald Tribune.
Webster Frenchified the name from Milk Toast to make it look like a last name, and to make it comic in its slightly more dignified spelling.
By the mid 1930s, it was being used as an adjective to describe people.