Donuts are basically an institution in America. Shops that sell solely donuts are everywhere, and there is even a National Donut Day (celebrated on the 1st Friday in June).
So, the locals couldn’t believe it when I confessed that I’d been living on US soil for 18 months and still hadn’t tried a proper American Donut.
The Donut dates back to the 1800’s when dough was deep fried so that sailors could store pastries while at sea. A nut (hazelnut or walnut) was literally added to the middle of the dough balls in case the dough didn’t cook all the way through. Hence the term – Dough Nuts. Somewhere in the 1840s the ‘hole’ appeared. Allegedly a sailors would impale their pastry on a spike, so they could still steer the ship, and bakers worked out that they would cook more evenly with the hole in the middle.
I’m sure my first introduction to donuts in New Zealand was on TV. Mainly Homer Simpson and references in many TV shows and movies to the US police department. So, one begins to wonder what the hype is all about.
New Zealand doughnuts are a little different – think sweet bread hot dog style roll, with whipped cream, and a touch of strawberry jam, and sprinkled in powdered sugar.
Having announced my donut-virgin-ness, the pressure was huge. Americans take their donuts seriously and I got loads of advice on where I should, and shouldn’t go to taste my first fried dough sugary circle.
On a recent trip to Portland, Oregon, I thought I had better just blinking try one. Portland has a famous Donut shop called Voodoo Doughnut. I’m not even sure why it’s famous, but the line runs down the street, all hours of day and night. My days of queuing for anything as unimportant as a sugary pastry are well and truly over, however, this shows you just how significant donuts are to Americans.
I always find the best recommendations on where to eat and what to see/do when travelling come from locals, usually hospitality staff. We were told that Voodoo was for the tourists, and Blue Star Donuts, on the other side of town, was where the locals go for their donut fix. So, we headed in that direction and the line was far more manageable (at least it was inside the store)!
There was a huge selection of donuts to choose from. Hubby, who’s done this before (a donut eating veteran), went for the adventurous Blueberry Bourbon Basil Donut.
But, I didn’t even know where to start. In my typical ‘ask a local for advice’ fashion, I struck up a conversation with the person in front of me in the line. As a local student, he recommended that I try an original plain glazed version as my first American donut experience. So, I did.
Now, I’m a fan of pastry and I have a sweet tooth. Truthfully, my expectations were high… And, I have to say, I was a little disappointed with this whole donut thing. Too much hype? Expectation too high? I obviously don’t get it.
I’m sad to say that I won’t be rushing out to try another any time soon. Give me a cream cheese bagel over a donut any day.
Have you had any disappointing 1st time experiences?
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