Pamela concerning a request that $100 worth of beignets
be delivered to her door, and because she hit the mid-century mark
yesterday, and because her amazing and gracious daughter
staged a surprise birthday party for her, I arrived at her door
yesterday evening with beignet makings in tow: a bowlful
of pre-made batter, a deep cauldron (after all, this beignet-thing
contains its fair amount of voodoo), canola oil, rolling pin,
flour, powdered sugar, sieve, dough scraper, paper towels and apron.
Reilly and I set up shop on the deck where we heated oil
to 360° on the propane burner attached to the grill. I rolled out
my spongy dough on the picnic table, sectioned it into neat squares
with my scraper, then plopped (gently!) four little pillows
at a time into the oil, where they bobbed and bubbled, browning
quickly. Steaming, too hot to touch, I sieved a generous cloud
of powdered sugar on each puffed confection. Friends began
to gather, drawn by the scent of fried dough. Each beignet
was snatched up almost as quickly as I sugared it,
and over and over again I warned: "Hot!"
Because they contain so much air,
because the ratio of crisp to puff
favors puff hands down, beignets are the kind of --
well, let's face it -- doughnut -- that defies the customary image
of a fat-laden, artery-clogging, gut-stuffing blue-collar pastry.
Therefore, one may consume as many as one's heart desires
with no negative consequences. (Warning! This may not be true!)
The best part of all this, after Pam's birthday and the joy
of cooking with my son, was the fact that I was
cooking to an audience and contributing, once again,
to the swoon-factor of the human race.
Feed someone well -- and I mean
really tap into that primitive desire
to be sated, set off all those bells and whistles
in the brain, and before long
you will have that person at the ground
in front of you, kissing your feet.