Stale Bread

Whoever came up with the idea for bread pudding deserves to be immortalized. The creative dish made from stale bread spans many nations and centuries, but no one person lays claim to making the first bread pudding. The Oxford Companion to Food says its origin may lie in the medieval English "sop," which used a hollowed-out loaf as its container. The bread pudding ($7) at Américas (1800 Post Oak Boulevard, 713-961-1492) is a spectacular version of this popular dessert. A large scoop of coconut ice cream sits atop a circular tower of milk-soaked bread. Because the pudding is served warm, the ice cream melts quickly, cascading down the sides of the tower and mixing with the sweet vanilla-brandy sauce on the bottom of the plate. It's an intoxicating, creamy combination.

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