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Sunday Brunch

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 at school

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 Beignets

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.


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