Not sure how aware most people are, but the people who write news stories always suggest headings, but those proposed headlines are rarely used. Case in point: this story I’d pitched about a truly acquired taste in beer–rauchbier, aka smoke beer–which I knew was a perfect fit for The Takeout’s “Aquired Taste” feature focusing on food and beverages that are popular in certain sets or regions without wide awareness or appeal. The headline ran called it “America’s most hated beer” style. C’est la vie. But when it comes to smoky beers, which get very little press, the old adage must be true that there’s no such thing as bad publicity.
I hate listticles, but do love doughnuts and getting paid. So when I was asked to write a list of the best doughnuts, I got to work on a list so air-tight, it could be be impeached, reproached, are in any way argued against. Take a look at my suggestions for the best baker’s dozen, found in The Takeout, and realize I’m 100% right.
Of all the trips I’ve taken or will take in my self-appointed role as a doughnut ethnographer, Detroit may not be the most touristy destination or have the most exotic-sounding treats, but I’d say visiting Hamtramck to explore the larger-than-life world of Polish pączki (“poonch-key”) had me drooling the most. For one, I love jelly doughnuts. For two, pączki are unlike typical jelly doughnuts and they can even be enjoyed spiked with a shot on what others call Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras but in the Upper Midwest everyone knows it as Pączki Day, which I got to write about for TheTakeout. Take that, other immigrant doughnut styles.
It’s not in the realm of doughnuts, but when you’re raised on these chocolaty or cinnamony or sometimes pruny treats found at every self-respecting Jewish delicatessen, you gotta shout it from the rooftop. Or from The Takeout. My love letter to rugelach.
While some places like Memphis, Kansas City, Austin, and the Carolinas are synonymous with regional barbecue, cowboys, Gauchos, and denizens of California’s Central Coast have our own: Santa Maria BBQ. Straight outta the 805, this technique is all about red oak and those 7-second grates. It can be chicken, fish, or various cuts of beef. But really, it’s about tri tip, as explained in The Takeout.
It wasn’t one singular inspiration but a handful that were all blended together to form one delicious idea: exploring the world and its peoples through their sweetened, fried doughs. These aren’t delicacies that are referred to as doughnuts, but I challenge you to explain why they are not such. To workshop these stories, I get to contribute to The Takeout–a culinary website from the same publisher as the seriously-funny innovators of “fake news,” The Onion.
First up: Navajo fry bread. Yes, the Indian food staple is now part of most tribe’s cookbooks or maybe you think it’s just fry-dough or a carnival staple, the elephant ear. Here’s where the yummy treat originated.