Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Donuts For Thought

While I eagerly await a response from a local independent bakery (run-on sentence warning: I emailed the founders asking if they'd like to spend an hour giving sage advice poor soul like me, looking to start a new life and a new small business in donut-making), I thought I'd delve a bit more into the ideas I'm cooking up.

from www.usc.salvationarmy.org

Donuts used to make me think of America. An American treat that was handed out by a famous Salvation Army girl to new immigrants, dispensed to our soldiers during WWII,  dunked in our Maxwell House coffee while listening to a Yankees game. Super Americana. Who knows why I thought this. In reality, the fried treat has many borrowed roots (as does the coffee, but that's another volume of books right there) from a variety of cultures from all over the world, and some of the roots go back thousands of years.

For example, there are malasadas. Originally from Portugal, these round, sugar-dusted fried pieces of heaven (I imagine) are now associated with Hawaii, where they flourished. Common flavors also have a tropical influence, like guava and mango. Seriously, can you think of anything better to do than lie on the beach and eat these suckers?

from the famous Leonard's Bakery: www.leonardshawaii.com

Then there are loukoumades, what I used to describe as the Greek "donut-holes" I used to get at the summer Greek Festival in Oakland. If you haven't been to this Festival, by the way, what have you been doing with yourself? Get thee to Oakland. These little round things come out of the fryer, are drizzled with honey, and then sprinkled with nuts. Hot nuts and balls, people. With gooey honey!

Also, when you're in Oakland, be sure to go to Brown Sugar Kitchen for fresh, hot beignets! Yes, another donut precursor, perhaps. Also pillow-shaped, covered in powdered sugar. Thank you, Creole cooking from New Orleans!

This is just a few of the more well-known donut-like-things. I'm eagerly combing cookbooks and the interwebs for more...