Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Daylight Donuts

I consider myself very fortunate to have settled my family into a small town that has a donut shop.

Yep, just the one.

Growing up in SoCal, I was accustomed to eating what I believed to be the best donuts, made by a group of people who I still believe to be the best donut makers in the states, Cambodians.

I'm not sure why, but during the 70's, when there was a large influx of refugees from the Southest Asian peninsula, Cambodians gravitated toward donut shops, when selecting businesses to open up in the LA area. After 30 years and several generations of making the fried, doughy, objects of desire, I believe they've achieved perfection in this particular culinary art.

And donut shops are as plentiful in LA, as road kill is on the highways of central Oklahoma.

So you can see why I was hopefully skeptical when I first entered our local donut chain store several months ago. Hopeful, because I knew it was the only donut joint in town. Skeptical, because I knew there was a slim to none chance that I'd find a friendly Cambodian family running the fryer in the back.

I take PK once a week for her sprinke donut after dropping C off at school in the morning. I usually get a sausage biscuit (warmed), a couple plain cakes and a small coffee. Call it an Okie power breakfast.

My small town's donut shop is a chain store, but the people that run it make it feel like a small mom&pop operation.

I was delighted to find that the donuts were made fresh every day by ladies who seem to really care about their product. The selection was limited but with enough variety to satisfy both my aging donut-intake palate for plain, cake donuts, my lovely wife's passion for buttermilk bars, and the girls innate need for chocolate covered and sprinkle covered sugar rushes.

They offered both kinds of coffee -- reg and decaf. No frilly french roast here, just real, black, hot coffee worthy of being carried in Juan Valdez's burro's backpack.

The drive-up window service is a nice touch, complete with a surplus rollover sensor that must have been rescued from a gas station of old. The familiar "ding-ding" sound that reverberates throughout the donut shop as a pick-up truck rolls over the black, rubber hose in the drive-up lane, is a welcomed sound from my childhood. Alas, another sound rendered obsolete with the extinction of full-service gas stations.

I sit amazed as PK commences to remove all the frostine and colored sprinkles (aka jimmys) from her inner-tube shaped pastry, leaving behind a bare, yet beautiful cake donut. I've also watched C methodically lick off the entire chocolate covering from a long-john in similar fashion.

I break apart and dip a cake donut into my small cup of steaming, light brown (cream and two sugars) coffee, feeling the excess dribble off my chin before coming to a violent end on my outstretched napkin.

There's a neon clock on the wall, a bulletin board filled with snapshots of family members, and a nice lady who periodically saunters by with what always seems to be a freshly made pot of coffee to refill emptied or near empty styrofoam cups.

I enjoy watching the folks who eat their donuts with a knife and fork, always taking the time to wipe clean the white plastic utensils supplied completely gratis by the shop.

The elderly couple who have met here every week for the last 40 years inform PK and I that a cold front is coming and that we should bring all of our sensitive plants indoors. They take one last loving look at the cuteness that is PK with donut trim surrounding her mouth and pile into their town cars in the parking lot.

Cambodian donuts they may not be. But as far as donut shops go, I'm comfortably at home.

1 comment:

Tammy Wilson said...

Our local Daylights (we actually have two) are run by sweet older ladies and they make sausage rolls that sell out every morning. It's part of my morning routine to drive through, and even in a town of 50,000, they know my "usual" and often hav eit ready before I pull up to the window :).