Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Emilia's Donuts

Haitian Donut Stand. Photo credit: Emily Brown

When I first started going to the market, I noticed an old woman on the side of the road, frying donuts. People always say, "NEVER buy anything from street vendors!" But I decided to break the rules. I bought five donuts for 25 goudes, ate one, and shared the rest with friends. It was delicious! It tasted like the homemade donuts from the Betty Crocker cookbook. And we never got sick, so now, we pass by and stop to get a donut about twice a week.

Haitian Donuts. Photo Credit: Emily Brown

In a land where everything is expensive, this is quite an affordable treat. One donut = 5 goudes. That's about 12 cents.

Emilia with her bowl of dough
Photo Credit: Emily Brown
We have chatted with the woman who makes them. Her name is Emilia. She sits there with a big bowl of dough on one side and a pot of boiling oil on some coals in front of her. She uses her fingers to break off a section of dough, rolls it expertly between her hands into a log, makes it into a circle, and dips it in the oil. After frying it to the perfect golden brown crispness, she stacks it onto a metal platter, making a fragrant, steaming mound.

Just imagine--all she has to do is walk out her front door, light her coals, and sit in a chair by the street with her little donut operation. She fries up her whole batch of donuts, and in a few hours, when the last one sells, she goes home.

We talked about the contrast between what it would be like for her to set up her little donut stand on the sidewalk in New York. She would have to have a business license, insurance, health inspections, nutrition facts, ingredient labels, and who knows what other permits and paperwork and red tape. How much would she then have to charge for her 12-cent donuts? How much would this cut into her ability to make a living?

I'm not against regulations and structure. I think it's a good thing to keep food poisoning to a minimum.

But if a Haitian can make donuts on the side of the road, pulling the dough into pieces with her hands, not wearing gloves, and the Americans who enjoy the donuts don't get sick... perhaps we have too many regulations in place. Just thinking.

1 comment:

  1. Yum! This makes me want to make Betty Crocker's donuts!


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