Archive for the ‘Literature’ Category

Wherein a 12-year old speaks about the Plain Doughnut

Friday, March 16th, 2012

Ah, from the mouths of babes…

The Donut Chef

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Over a very large and expansive tasting of organic, vegan doughnuts at The Ferry Plaza in San Francisco, I met a delightful young lady named Emi, aged five. She was very helpful in tasting Pepple’s Blueberry doughnut. It was all that much more appropriate for while we were noshing and chatting about the qualities of her doughnut, her father told me that Emi’s favorite book at the moment is called Donut Chef.

So I got myself to the library — as I don’t normally read children’s book — and checkout out this oversized picture book. Written and illustrated by Bob Staake, a graphic designer and illustrator who as well as doing work for everything from The New Yorker to Mad Magazine, writes children’s books of some renown. And I must say that Donut Chef is more than a book for children, this is one that adults will certainly get a huge chuckle from; especially food-obsessed fanatics who have witness the progression of haute cuisine and obscure and bizarre flavor models.

The book tells the story of two rival doughnut makers who continually try and one-up each other with their fantastic concoctions and intricate flavors, but poetically, it is written in heroic couplets of Iambic Tetrameter, with the first and third lines being acephalous, i.e. lacking the syllable of the initial foot, beginning thusly:

Once upon a summer’s day
A donut chef was heard to say:
“On this street where people stop,
I’ll open up my donut shop!”
The store was cozy, made of brick.
He got it ready super-quick!
He washed the walls, he swept the floors,
He hung a sign above the doors!

The story commences quite delightfully, but I do take exception at what might be considered a minor error, but for me is a bit more glaring. To commence his doughnut production, we read the following:

That donut chef, he worked so hard
By mixing flour, sugar, lard.
He baked his donuts fresh at daw,
Then hoped by noon they’d all be gone!

Well, as anyone who has been following this blog knows, doughnuts are FRIED. How would it sound to be the Baked Dough Ho? It just is not the same and while I commend Mr. Staake for his wit and delightful illustrations, there is a tragic misnomer in instructing children to believe that doughnuts are baked. Baked dough are cupcakes or cookies or madeleines or macarons, but they are not doughnuts. It is still a great book though and one I can heartily recommend.

Dough Rolled Perfect – poems by Ben Hart

Friday, July 16th, 2010

Get the flash player here:

Some time ago, I stumbled on a short mockumentary about doughnuts by filmmaker Jaxon Defa. One of the interviewees was Canadian poet, Ben Hart (pictured above, visiting San Francisco), who waxes rhapsodic that if he had his way, the doughnut would be representative of modern Canadian poetry in sonnet form. I was intrigued and I started hunting around. Well, Ben got his poems published by a small hand-crafted publishing house, Frog Hollow Press in an edition entitled Dough Rolled Perfect. I went for the less expensive model, An edition of 60 numbered books, Smyth-sewn with a cover of mould-made Saint-Armand; flyleaf; approximately 30 copies are offered for sale. Although expensive ($30) for a thin paperback, it has been more than worth it for the joy it has brought.

The introduction poem, which sets the stage is entitled Finer Things:

At my most foolish, I believe confit
can teach me about being duck. I slip
Dvorak into the CD player
and pretend my ear is an instrument
built to hear the full sweep of crescendo.
I look deep into the bull’s eyes
in Guernica — see the world there,blown
to smithereens. Sure, there are lessons
gleaned from poetry and innuendo,
but what cultivation of taste explains love
of cream filling, chocolate sprinkles,
sugar glaze, a dough ring? One bite tells me
all I need to know about sweet. Truth is —
there is no finer things, only these:

I started with this and had to know more about this guy. Ben and I have been corresponding a bit as I continue to investigate Canada’s obsession with doughnuts. For example, Canada has more doughnut shops per capita than any other country on earth. Hamilton, Ontario, home of the first Tim Hortons, has approximately one doughnut shop per 300 residents. The mind boggles! (more…)

Happy Birthday, Washington Irving

Saturday, April 3rd, 2010

Born 227 years ago, April 3, 1783 and died November 28, 1859. Author of noted works like The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle.

And, no doubt, you are asking yourself, “Why the heck do we care about Washington Irving on a site devoted to doughnuts?”

A very good question and the answer lies in his History of New York. Written  and published in 1809, it contains two of the earliest known recorded usages of the word “doughnut” in literature:

Sometimes the table was graced with immense apple-pies, or saucers full of preserved peaches and pears; but it was always sure to boast an enormas dish of balls of sweetened dough, fried in hog’s fat, and called doughnuts, or olykoeks – a delicious kind of cake – at present scarce known in this city, except in genuine Dutch families.


Every love-sick maiden fondly crammed the pockets of her hero with gingerbread and doughnuts; many a copper ring was exchanged, and crooked sixpence broken, in a pledge of eternal constancy: and there remain extant to this day some love verses written on that occasion, sufficiently crabbed and incomprehensible to confound the whole universe.

So, Happy Birthday Washington Irving! And thank you…