Sunday Brunch: Beignets,
the Other Sinful Dessert
26 February 2012
It's Sunday and in the words of Charlotte from Walt
Disney Pictures The Princess and the Frog, 'I'm sweating like
a sinner in church.' The sin? I celebrated Mardi Gras-on the first
day of Lent. For those unfamiliar with this period of penitence and
faith, Christians will give up some sort of luxury, and typically it
is some sort of food. Mardi Gras or 'Fat Tuesday' is the day before
the first day of Lent (Ash Wednesday), marking the last chance to be
gluttonous and enjoy things they will give up for Lent. Some
cultures give the day other titles such as Carnival, Pancake Day,
Shrove Tuesday, and Fastnacht Day (Doughnut Day). Doughnuts and
pancakes were common food choices to dine on as Christians would
make them to empty their cupboards of luxury food ingredients such
as sugar, lard, and butter.
Here I am frying doughnuts for a Fastnacht Day Fundraiser last year
This year, I missed Mardi Gras since I was working
that evening, so I ended up being sinful and gluttonous the next
day. I know, work is a poor excuse, but you can't change the past.
It was a rainy day last Wendesday, and I was out with my friend
Amanda dining on cheeseburgers (another sin as Catholics fast and
abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday). Somehow we started talking
about beignets, the signature fried dough pastry from New Orleans,
Louisiana. Then we thought, does the Disney resort Port Orleans
French Quarter or Riverside serve beignets? We had to find out, so
we canceled our original plans to head to the rare evening hours at
Disney's Animal Kingdom (it was raining after all), and headed to
the New Orleans inspired resort.
Port Orleans French Quarter mascot
Our other friend Aaron met us at the Sassagoula
Floatworks & Food Factory, the food court of the French Quarter side
of the resort. We were ready to ask him whether or not beignets
existed at this typical Disney resort Food Court, but before we even
could, he pointed us the way to the beignet counter! Well actually,
it was the bakery/dessert counter, but nearly everyone in line was
there for beignets.
The Bakery shop Cast Members were hard at work making beignets
I'm sure they learned how to make Princess Tiana's man-catching
When it was our turn, we found we had a choice
between ordering 3 beignets or 6, and of course since Ash Wednesday
is a day of fasting, we went for the 6. Though we had to wait a bit
to receive them after ordering, it is reassuring that the wait time
would be rewarded with freshly fried, sinfully delicious beignets.
After the obligatory food photo shoot, it was every
man and woman for themselves. Aaron and Amanda were quite polite,
using forks and knives to dine on this powdery, messy treat, but
being the Catholic sinner I was that day, I ate like a hungry man
and pawed the pillowy beignets with my hands. While they don't have
a filling like other pillowy pastries, beignets are simply fried
bread dough that puffs once fried. The powdered sugar adds a sweet
element to the otherwise plain, but delicious beignet dough. The
fried dough cooks so fast, that it does not sit in the oil too long
that the product is served wet and oily. Crisp, sweet, powdery
pillow is probably the best way to describe beignets, at least the
ones at Disney World.
Americans are famous for fried foods and when
they're really good, I'm in full support of eating as much as I can
before my heart yells in protest. I think I had half of our beignet
order just because they were that amazing! I don't know why we
doubted it, but it is quite thematic, appropriate, and expected to
have beignets at Disney's classic New Orleans themed resort. Dining
in its whimsical Mardi Gras themed food court with New Orleans'
greatest dessert specialty made the first day of Lent a real test of
temptation that I ultimately failed, but it was most definitely
worth every last bite.