Donuts: An American Passion
John T. Edge. Putnam Publishing Group, $19.95 (176pp) ISBN 978-0-399-15358-7
This, the final of four volumes in food writer Edge's series about the ""small-d democratic foods that conjure our collective childhood"" (following fried chicken, apple pie and hamburgers), is a tour through donut-loving America that stops at unique donut shops and offers a handful of recipes for the ubiquitous ring of deep-fried and sugared dough. After quickly acknowledging donuts' nutritional bankruptcy, Edge explains how the Salvation Army made the consumption of donuts a patriotic necessity in World War I; how every culture has a donut-type pastry (including the Italian zeppole, the Lebanese awwamaat, the Croatian krafne and the South African koeksister); how New Orleans stalwart Cafe du Monde is still serving up beignets post-Katrina; and how an innovative Chicago chef has conjured up donut soup, for which Edge presents an alternate, though no less caloric, recipe. On the trivia end, readers will learn that Henry David Thoreau was once served a breakfast of ""eels, green beans, and donuts,"" and Cambodian refugees ""may own as many as 80 percent of the independent donut shops in Los Angeles."" This is a warm-hearted appreciation that, like its subject, is hard to resist.
Reviewed on: 05/29/2006