Diana and Ashley's excellent donut adventure
I never really understood the allure of the food crawl. Sure, there’s the obvious pleasure of going from place to place and gorging on food, but I wasn’t particularly enthused by the prospect of the aftermath of said gorging: belly bulge, greasy mouth, the inability to move from the fetal position for the rest of the day. Aside from holidays, Chinese restaurants and the days I’m cranky or sad or happy and need to eat my feelings, I like to eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m not. So um, really, hardly ever.
But then the idea of a donut crawl started circulating in my head. Every day I pass by three donut shops on my way to work, and then again on the way home. Located on the same one-mile stretch, they called out to me as I drove by. “Donut crawl. Donut crawl. Donut crawl,” they seemed to say. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, couldn’t shut up the voice that kept pulsing inside of my head. So finally, after weeks of taunting, I commissioned my best friend to join me in my gluttonous mission. We picked an upcoming Saturday and set a starting time and place. “No turning back now,” I thought with a mixture of excitement and disgust. I could practically feel the impending stomachache that I would surely incur from embarking on this gastronomical misadventure.
When the day finally arrived, however, the disgust had transformed into giddy anticipation. “I’m going to eat a lot of donuts today!” I thought when I woke up that morning at 7 am. I bolted out of bed like a sprinter pushing off from the blocks, adrenaline rushing through my veins. Despite the early hour, I couldn’t possibly contemplate falling back asleep – there were donuts to eat, monstrous belly bulge to incur, an afternoon spent in the fetal position just a few hours away. I couldn’t wait to feel fat and gross.
My friend Ashley was less enthusiastic. When I walked up to her apartment that morning, armed with a water bottle, camera and a stomach primed with a savory egg and braised kale scramble, she greeted me with a pained expression. “Hey,” she said, her voice flat and devoid of its usual spark. “Donuts!” I screamed, flapping my hands and arms up and down. She groaned, clearly no longer as enthralled by the idea of stuffing her face with sugar and fat as she’d been when I’d first propositioned her a few weeks before.
Our first stop was in a humble strip mall open 24 hours for the locals stumbling home after a late night out, the kind of sketchy place that could just be a hidden gem – or possibly a place better left hidden. After contemplating the neat rows of classic cake donuts and liberally frosted maple bars, we chose a raised glazed and lightly glazed blueberry cake donut. Both offerings were clearly fresh and possessed an unexpected lightness that made them far too easy to demolish.
Stop two was a well-known Los Angeles donut stand at the Original Farmers Market, a stand famed for its apple fritter, a beastly claw of dark, lacquered dough that’s far more fritter than it is apple. We greedily ordered two of the still-warm stomach bombs – no way we were sharing. We were ready to embrace the spirit that food crawls demand, namely over-the-top gluttony, no restraint or any other form of reasonable behavior. Mere moments after we’d bitten into our gargantuan fritters, however, Ashley called out in distress, “We should have split! We should have split!” With our fingers and lips slick with grease, we surrendered our half-eaten fritters to the garbage can.
Our final destination was a posh new donut shop that specializes in baked and gluten-free varieties. Eager to wash the taste of grease out of my mouth, I decided to order two to sample (a reasonable conclusion for a food crawl) – the gluten-free lemon and the gluten-free banana chocolate. While the tang of the lemon was a refreshing palate cleanser, the donuts were a closer approximation to cake or bread than they were to actual donuts. Ashley and I both agreed that the best bites of our one-mile, sugar-saturated journey were the simple raised glazed and blueberry cake donuts from the sketchy strip mall joint.
The verdict made, we both went our separate ways as though nothing out of the ordinary had just happened, like we hadn’t just planned our entire morning around the consumption of fried dough. I had expected to feel different somehow, victorious, or at the very least, a hero for all mankind for sacrificing my stomach, waistline and rationale in pursuit of donuts. But I just went about the rest of my afternoon like I normally do. Instead crawling into the fetal position in a sugar-induced stupor, I crawled onto my hands and knees to scrub the kitchen floor. It was mildly disappointing.
It wasn’t until later that I realized the awesomeness of that day. I’d eaten donuts for lunch without thinking, “I should really be eating something organic right now,” or “My ass is going to feel this tomorrow.” I ate like a kid on Halloween – trick or treating my way down the street with only one thing on my mind: Eating as many donuts as possible. What a treat.