What is…a beignet?

It’s a ‘must-devour’ if you go to New Orleans, Louisiana, but what exactly is a beignet?

Beignet (bain-yay is how I hear it most often) means fried dough or fritter. As you might have guessed, it is a fried yeast-containing doughnut, deep fried in cottonseed oil. Once it has cooled off a little, it is sprinkled with powdered or confectioners’ sugar. It is most often eaten in the morning with a cup of coffee. Restaurants serve them in groups of three.

Unlike other American ring-style doughnuts, it is not round and has no hole in the middle.

One of the most famous places to get beignets in NOLA is Cafe du Monde. Other eateries, like Cafe Beignet, also sell them. For those of us who aren’t in NOLA, there’s a video demo on how to cook beignets at the Cafe du Monde website. Some grocery chains, like Piggly Wiggly, even carry chicory coffee and beignet mix made by Cafe du Monde.

As they say in NOLA at Mardi Gras–laissez le bon temps rouler (layzay lee bohn timps rool-ay is how it is pronounced) = let the good times roll!

UPDATE: On a related note, in Michigan, they enjoy pączki (paunch-key), plum jelly-filled fried pastry that originate from Poland. The Polish have eaten these since the Middle Ages, and French cooks brought it to them. While many Americans would think its just a jelly doughnut, native eaters say it has a richer taste and regular old jelly doughnuts are bland by comparison.

In Poland individual paczek are eaten “Fat Thursday” the final Thursday before Ash Wednesday. But in the States, this was moved to Fat Tuesday. In the States, naturally other fruit jellies, or confitures, have been used in packzi. I really enjoyed reading Kitchen Chick’s blog on this food tradition, click her blog name to visit yourself.

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