Wednesday, September 27, 2006

An American Donut in Paris

With the exception of one overly-gamey piece of chicken, just about everything we ate in Paris was aces. Fresh baguettes. Buttered almond croissants. Nutella crepes. All aces. So why are the Donuts so awful?! Seriously, we thought for sure the culinary center of the world, and the birthplace of the Beignet, would certainly fry up a top-notch Nut. Not so. Many of the Parisian Beignets and Donuts we encountered were nearly inedible and every one of them scores near the bottom of the Blognut 10-point scale. Maybe it's that this overly-sophisticated food Mecca is inherently unable to successfully produce a food as simple as a Nut. In fact, I doubt most Parisians would even consider Donuts a worthy feed for their fattened geese, as even fois gras liver can't detoxify something so vile. This said, France does have a rich, if cloudy, donut history.

The word "Beignet" comes from the early Celtic word "bigne," meaning "to raise." In France, it would later come to mean "fritter," referring essentially to any clump of fried dough. Exactly when the Beignet arose in France is unclear, but what is known is that 18th century French colonists brought the recipe for so called "Beignet Fritters" to New Orleans, Louisiana, where they exploded with popularity and have since become associated with the city. Though there are numerous variations on the Beignet, the base recipe calls for deep-fried dough, usually sprinkled with confectioner's sugar (like so many other International Nuts). Over the years, French culinary tradition has snubbed its fried creation and the modern day French beignet has become a sub-standard, recycled version of the 20th century American donut.

Without further ado, here's a run down of all the crappy donuts I ate in Paris:

Beignet de Framboise (Raspberry-filled Beignet) - sitting in a large, empty glass display case were these two pathetic little donuts. They tasted like stale dinner rolls stuffed with cheap and sugary raspberry jelly.

Here's a picture of me eating a disgusting Beignet de Framboise on the street and washing it down with a Kronenbourg. The only thing worse than a French Donut is a French Beer.

This donut sucked.

More sucky donuts. This time, they were actually called "Donuts."

I've saved the worst for last. This is a Beignet au Miel, or Honey Beignet (pictured above), which we purchased in Montmarte as a pre-dinner snack. It weighed roughly two pounds and had the consistency of a hard, dried-up sponge. It tasted like burnt plastic with a slight honey aftertaste and was hands down the worst thing we ingested the entire trip. We took one bite and threw the rest in la poubelle.


k said...

Great post. I'm so sorry this happened to you in the otherwise fabulous Paree. Americans are just better than the French at at lot of trashy things, when you think about it. Car racing comes to mind. You mentioned beer. Rock and roll. Need I say more?

Robyn said...

I got a filled beignet in Paris (a very cheap one) and it was definitely not that great. Gotta stick to the croissants and things, I guess.

theblognut said...

yep yep. croissants.

Mathieu, Paris said...

Well, It may be true.
But why did you buy donuts in touristic places when everybody knows that it's awful?
Have you eaten our nicest croissants and "pain au chocolat"?

We're think about improving our donut.


Anonymous said...

I live in Paris, and I really miss the real donuts, those of Krispy Kreme, Dunkin Donuts and Winchell's that I ate during my several trips to the US and Spain. So why don't you move to paris and run a donuts and coffee shop and save french from the uneatable beignet??

LaFemmeAnkita said...

here, here anonymous.

i was hoping to find some suggestions online for a decent donut in paris.

we need donuts without borders. marching bravely hand in hand with the missionaries of bottomless mugs of drip coffee.

Anonymous said...

hi guys,

A new chain of coffee shop sell varieties of donuts in Paris. They have filled, glazed with sugar....
you can buy boxes of 6 or 12...

11 boulevard des filles du calvaire
75003 Paris

You can order in calling to their phone number but I lost their loyalty card

good luck


Anonymous said...

if france sucks that much, nothing forced you to travel over here...

Anonymous said...

Yes, If you come to Paris to eat donuts, you can't be very bright. Each country has its own specialty and in France it is surely not junk food. So stay fat!

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Bellainparis83 said...

You are so American in all of the worst senses of the word. I live in Paris and can attest to the fact that the donuts here are gross because it's not something the French would waste their time on. You wouldn't go to a Chinese restaurant and order a burger and fries would you? And if you did and it wasn't the best one you've ever had, you'd have to be a moron to say with genuine surprise that you're displeased. The French are the kings of all things culinary and there's nothing gastronomic about a donut. When in Rome, do like the Romans and when in Paris, leave your limited, obesity enduing, industrial food consumption regime at home with Uncle Sam. Do however bring some culture, an open mind and a willingness to try local cuisine and pastries.

Blognut: said...

Thanks for the feedback Belle in Paris. Keep in mind that this post was tongue in cheek. Of course you don't go to Paris for the doughnuts. You go for the knishes!

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Dan said...


aren't you holding the French up to a same kind of stereotype that you mark the blog-poster as for being an American one? Many French, while proud of their arguably invented/imagined gastronomical tradition, disdain, as many people do, sweeping generalizations about their culture, i.e. that all their food is healthy and aesthetically composed gourmet.

"When in Rome" is generally a good maxim, but keep in mind some cultural relativity:

In Defense of the Donut:
"there are no things gastronomic about a donut" - every food that is conceived and composed to evoke certain affect in its consumer is gastronomic, especially one that has stood the test of time and has become such tradition as the donut. Creme Brulee isn't healthy, but it sure is amazing, isn't it? I think the many bakers who still hand-make their donuts in the states would be quite offended by this comment.

"leave your limited, obesity enducing, industrial food consumption regime at home with Uncle Sam."-
obesity enducing? and you're comparing to *French* cuisine?? Do you know how much butter is in a croissant or pain au chocolat? How much fat is in all that cheese, mayo, and butter that goes on everything in France? How much salt is in the terrines and pates? Have you ever had tartiflette, fondue or andouillette? Industrial? Have you ever heard of monoprix, carrefour, or auchan? What about the bakery chains like Bonne Journee comparable to DD or Krispy Kreme?

Many parisians are thin, but so are many new yorkers. Have you stepped into the countryside? Things are different there.

I know a lot of Americans abroad who praise their host country, or other countries' ways of doing things in general, and hold this kind of self-hate for their home's seemingly backwards ways. I would say that you have to be relative..But you're Canadian! How you call someone of another country "so [insert their nationality] in the worst senses of the word" and then compare them to an invented ideal of another culture?

Sorry, Blognut, for leaving such a post, but I couldn't let it go without saying something. I think this is a good post and I love your love for donuts.

- An american abroad, who loves donuts.

Anonymous said...

In Paris, I had bread, brioche, pain au chocolate, etc etc etc, and it all tasted the same: bland and in many cases downright revolting. It was as if all the boulangeries shipped in this crap from some central bureaucratic bakery. All over Paris--burbs, downtown, random arr.s--le same. Worse yet was bread from a grocery store--we tried several and they were all INEDIBLE. Tastes like they are using substandard ingredients and filthy water.

Anonymous said...

Hi! It may be too late but I just wanted to say that I'm shocked by some comments. I'm french and I'm really sorry that some french people could be so rude and intolerant. Yes, we suck when it comes to donut and some other things as anyone. And we are better, and even much better, at other things.
But you didn't deserve to be treated that way. France is a very nice country with nice people and...some stupid people as in any country.
I hope you enjoy your stay in France even if our donuts sucks.



Unknown said...

Hey Gut, In France we have Excellent Beer, but you don't know it because you drink Kronenbourg ! taste before speaking !

Anonymous said...

The French are not known for their donuts. Why would you search for an American good in a completely different country. When you're in France you need to experience the French cuisine - which is by the far better than American cuisine. And if you really wanted something that resembled a donut, you could've gone to a real Patisserie and have gotten a fresh Beignet.

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Anonymous said...

Why in the world would you want to find a Dounut in Paris? You are talking about "beignets" but they can't compare to Donuts because it's not at all the same product :/ strange of you to try to relate both...

As for the ridiculous first comment... the worst beer I ever had was in the US.. try visiting Belgium and Eastern Europe, then you can give your piece of mind ...

William Ransone said...

Ha ha ! C'est pas faux !

William Ransone said...

I remember oustanding fresh handmade donuts at Seattle's Carolyn's Cakes Bakery, unforgettable! Real homemade donuts and not industrial, Dunkins etc. stuff.... but why to eat donuts and drink drip coffee? If you want what what you find at home, stay at home.

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