Once upon a time, before the days of real jobs and bills, I embarked on one of those post-college, self-discovery adventures. I ended up living in a village on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica called Puerto Viejo. Despite having contracted a bizarre mosquito-related disease, it was a wonderful experience; there were beautiful beaches, a laid back vibe, and hot local men. But, since it was a village, the culinary options were quite limited. When a French woman opened a restaurant, my friend and I were excited by the prospect of eating something for breakfast besides eggs and gallo pinto (a rice and beans dish).
We were stoked when the owner said she served french toast. And she looked like an angel when she walked towards us holding two plates of what I thought were morsels of sweet, egg-soaked, fried, buttery deliciousness. What she set down in front of us was plain old toast.
If we had taken her to court over it, I’m not sure we would have won our case because she might have had us on a technicality: she was French and she did serve us toast.
I guess we got French toast instead of french toast.
Since that traumatic experience, I don’t like to capitalize foods and drinks that include the names of nationalities, such as french fries, swiss cheese, and irish coffee. It’s not incorrect to capitalize them; it’s more of a stylistic choice. I don’t capitalize them for the same stylistic reasons I choose not to wear Crocs: I think it looks a bit clunky.
Also, it could be confusing. For example, if I wrote, “I remember a little Danish,” it would be impossible to know whether I was referring to the language or a delicious pastry of yore. And if I wrote, “Have you seen that Irish stew?” I could either mean a soup or a troubled Irish person.