Friday, August 23, 2013

Donut Culture

There is a donut shop near my house. This place is amazing. 

They have a glazed donut with real whipped cream on the inside. It is cut in half like a sandwich. I am addicted. And after eating it I feel a swath of shame envelop me. For someone raised, inadvertently, with a serious Catholic-guilt complex this is almost better/worse than the co-occuring sugar high. It is also worth noting that us New Englanders are extremely self-flagellating, something that doesn’t really happen here in the wild wild west.

Arizonans seem to feel no guilt. Which is weird because in defiance of nature they live in large desert cities, don’t recycle, and drive everywhere. Assholes! It’s like New Englanders feel guilty for them. It’s kind of refreshing to feel guilty. I’m just learning slowly that it isn’t necessary (in most cases).

So, I pass this donut shop about 9 times a week. In the non-summer mornings I ride my bike past and muscle through the aroma of hot sticky dough. Oh. My. Gatos. What a challenge. Whenever I feel sick, this may be a weird confession, actually---okay, whenever I feel sick I try to pass the shop. The hope is that someday the feeling of nausea will become associated with donuts. That would cure me for sure.

Once I got food poisoning from eating tacos that have a high probability of being made from dog. After that the smell of tortillas de maíz was absolutely sickening. But I have loved donuts since a young age, and haven’t yet been able to break the curse.

Once upon a time there was this fabulous donut, a powered, chocolate créme filled one that my parents used to buy on choice Saturday mornings. It isn’t sold at the Dunkin Donuts (a.k.a. DD’s) near my parent’s house any more. While watching Twin Peaks one summer all I wanted was coffee and donuts. I would drive my brother to the Dunkin’s, praying for the magical sweet of yore. No such luck. But good things come to us when we least expect them.

There are two places I have successfully located the chocolate-créme lovely: (sorry if this is really boring, just gotta get this out there). The gas station DD’s near Orange, MA on the way to-from Amherst and the one on Bethany Home and 21st Ave here in Phoenix. FYI. There are other bakeries in Phoenix, some that have jumped on a certain bandwagon. There is this thing going on in the culinary community, it has been happening for a while. Artisan donuts.

Voodoo Donuts in Portland, OR comes to mind. There’s also a donut food truck in Chicago (I know! They doin’ too much). There are vegan donuts popping up in Phoenix. I guess in essence there is nothing wrong with eating donuts. There’s just something so…forbidden about them. Just like one of my favorite literary themes, forbidden love, after a while the craving is impossible to refuse. Going into the donut shop, you enter and your eyes grow wide with anticipation. Instantly the imagination is filled with fantasy.

Staring at the glass case and your eyes rove from one sugared sheen to another. You imagine running through a field with powder all over your face and hands. You flop down, Dorothy-style,  in the field of poppies and fall into a delicate, glazed slumber. With a forbidden love the fantasies are slightly different. The courtship dance is drinking from their beer, brushing knuckles, making prolonged eye contact that would be creepy in any other situation.

The identifying placards in the pasty case only create more mystery. “Strawberry jam” says one. “Blueberry old-fashioned” proclaims another. In the case of a would-be lover it is iguál. Their carefully selected words only drop you both deeper into the imagination rabbit hole. So many women my age have a strange relationship with both themes—forbidden love and donuts alike.

A business that booms during a recession is contraception. And when you finally consummate the romance (obsession?) with your big ol’ crush it’s a good idea to keep it safe---especially if you don’t have health insurance. Those brave ladies who remain sex-positive in this sex-negative world are a growing population, and yet from the outside it wouldn’t appear so. Those times when I was watching Twin Peaks and fiending for donuts they were, like young women openly embracing their sexuality, a shameful treat. In lots of places, like my work, donuts still are drenched in shame.

Way back one November morning I brought a dozen donuts to work. When a co-worker saw the pink box she turned and told me, “I hate you”. Another moaned, “Oh no.” The donuts were just being themselves, but they were anxiety producing. But at the end of the day they were gone. Busting diets and taking names. Calorie counting doesn’t seem to have much of a place in the foodie-baking universe.

In those circles donuts are going the way of the cupcake: once relegated to certain occasions (donuts to police stations, cupcakes to children’s birthday parties) they are breaking through. A theory is that during recessions cheap, sweet treats and general vice both remain on the must-buy list of the populous, just like wrapping it up. This makes sense, as a box of 12 donuts usually costs less than $10---even cheaper in Phoenix. And slow-burning trysts are almost free. Eating donuts and doing the naughty with a no no go along with the mission statement of now.

The aesthetic of the moment is the ‘I don’t care 80s take over’. Oversized glasses and power-clashing add to the general feel. And if you eat donuts you seriously don’t care. Ditto if you ruin relationships/grades/your professional credibility to get your rocks off. The uncool thing to do is moderate your intake of anything. A plain shirt? Ew, the fashionable say. Waiting for a nice partner? Lame, they mutter. If we bow to current aesthetic, the ideology of the present, we are sacrificing our identity for what is acceptable.

Succumbing to hegemony, no matter how subversive it initially appears, does us no favors. If you honestly eat donuts by the box and weave tangled webs then carry on. But if you’ve always been uncomfortable pairing that Hawaiian shirt with those golf shorts…liberate yourself.

Shame has no place in 2013. Let’s self-regulate, let’s trust our instincts. You like her? Go for it. You think that looks yummy? Eat it. Moderation, though. Moderation is difficult. But it’s possible. I believe in you. 

No comments:

Post a Comment