Donut go gentle

An Ode to Donuts

I did a lot of research for this piece

Originally published in print for HOORAY! magazine.

Dear donuts,

Let’s just forget that incident involving a treasured white blouse and your jam filling consummating a relationship right in front of me, a relationship that even my most fervent laundering attempts could never divorce.

Sure, I swore I’d never eat a jam-filled donut ever again. But it was the equivalent to waking up to a resounding hangover and uttering the words, “I will never drink again.” I didn’t really mean it. It was the emotional crescendo that subsides well before the next drink is in hand, the next circle of dough filled with some delightful but indelible substance.

I can’t go on without you. Who could? You are an enduring icon in the collective consciousness. Would Homer Simpson of the golden age of The Simpsons (seasons one to ten, for those woefully ignorant) be even half the character he is without his predilection for donuts? Of course! Half the body weight and a portion of the personality. Take away the donut and you erode a small but significant part of his essence as the loveable, idiot father. In some small way — you, dear donuts — you have contributed to the world’s archetypal idiot father.

And you’re not like those other sweet flimsy desserts. You’re not some rarefied delicate shell of a thing, like the airy macaron. You’re not a gimmicky, one hit wonder like the cronut. (Please! The cronut will be the focaccia of this decade.) You’re not the overly pretty and precious cupcake, good for an Instagram post but not a bona fide dessert. You’re nothing like all those other trendy, sweet-nothings. You are an enduring dessert of your own design; you are a magnetic Meryl Streep in a sea of delicious but interchangeable starlets.

I know you’re having something of a renaissance, showing up on Pinterest, Instagram and hip cafe guides which dictate the settings of our social lives. You’re a bit of a big deal right now. But this isn’t some fleeting fling. You’ve simply been updated for a generation for whom Nutella and peanut butter ice-cream ain’t no thang, maple bacon is a classic flavour, and who do we have to kill to get a miso caramel milkshake around here?

Of course, your star may wane, but it will never disappear. Donut shops have stood the test of time, while frozen yogurt and cupcake specialty stores have come and gone, and will continue to come and go. You won’t. Because you come from humble beginnings, from the ghetto of the dessert world: the deep fryer. It might be exactly that which is central to your success and appeal; that full-bodied, slightly crisp dough, which can only be nurtured in a vat of hot oil, lubricated by a rich and luscious sweetness.

As a dessert you are complex but not complicated. It’s something which I think has made you a darling of food fetishists and design blogs. What’s so wonderful about you is that you’re recognisable in shape — like a lover’s gait or a really, really tall person — but so individual in colour and accoutrement that you offer variety and intrigue as well. Your round body is so graphically identifiable and easy on the eye that you can make it as a pair of earrings, a pattern on a dress or an artistic print to enrich a bare wall. You can be anything you want to be.

I’m sorry I said I’d never go near your sweet-centred goodness ever again. I was young and foolish and had just gotten to laundry basket zero. But I don’t care about that blouse the way I care about you. Let me make it up to you, we could have a tryst between meals? Or breakfast. I could wake up to you any day.

Please, just come back to me.