The donut. We can all agree it’s an important part of life. Nay–the most important part of life. Let’s just say it. It’s bingeworthy in a minor crisis. Its fluffy composure absorbs your tears. And yeah, it’s kind of breakfast.
Most of all, donuts afford you a benign guilty pleasure and a relatively harmless secret (even more harmless now that some of the world’s best donuts are vegan). We all need little secrets. Don’t object. It’s okay. We’re all speaking the same language. The language of the donut.
Donuts are the very glue that holds society together. That’s why June 2nd is America’s National Donut Day 2017. But in point of fact, donuts are an international phenomenon. So forget Dunkin’ Donuts! Your global options are many. The Great Donut in the Sky manifests in myriad forms, but they are all bready, sweet and fried.
Praise be to the Great Donut. Let us admire her many global incarnations. Here’s how to translate donut in 10 unique languages from around the world.
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Czech Republic: Kobliha
Stepping out with a near relative of the American donut, we find the Kobliha. This Prague style donut is jam stuffed and sugar dusted. It’s perfect for the apricot lover, and and the name is shoutable in moments of excitement. It’s true, try it. Oh my God this tastes so amaz–KOBLIHA!!
These lucky donut holes appear all over Latin America. The Colombian version is made with small curd white cheese and anise. They’re traditionally served at Christmas time, but every day can be Dia de la Dona! You can make them in secret all year round. Once you taste them you’ll want to. In huge batches.
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The Korean street food blurs the line between pancakes and donuts, between snack food and dessert, between the occasional indulgence and a first-name basis with the street vendor on the way to work. They have a little brown sugar syrup in the middle, and are served hot and oily in a paper sleeve. Heaven? Yep, pretty much.
These crunchy on the outside, fluffy on the inside delights are also called drop doughnuts. They’er a pervasive treat amongst West African donut lovers. Like donut holes, they’re bite sized little spheres dropped into hot oil, and come in batches far more permissive than the laughably unrealistic lone donut order. Some variations are made with cayenne and served with strawberry jam to create that grandslam flavor combination of spicy and sweet. So grab a box of African drop doughnuts (or make them at home!) and snack all the way to the horizon.
Latin America: Churro
Characteristically long and handheld, like a majestic saber of deliciousness, the churro’s grandeur lies in its liberal coating of cinnamon and sugar. This legendary star-shaped crunchable comes from murky origins. There’s one theory that Portuguese sailors brought the recipe back from Cantonese China, inspired by the youtiao. The world may never know, but will always be grateful.
You can eat this Chinese cruller-style breadstick sweet… or savory?? While your mind bends around the possibilities of what a donut can be, Youtiao is disappearing by the mouthful all over the People’s Republic. It’s decidedly not a healthy snack, but you can eat it alongside a bowl of congee to make it a totally legitimized side dish.
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This coconut milk and cardamom delicacy is best served with a cup of ginger Kenyan chai. Need any more really be said? How about those flavors? In a world of snacking, Kenya has made an elegant donut part of haute cuisine, redefining the international language of donuts.
South Tyrol: Strauben
It’s a funnel cake. Funnel cake, okay? We get it. But we can’t stop eating it. State fair funnel cake as we know it is based on Strauben and was imported by the Pennsylvania Dutch, who were German, not Dutch. Strauben is the donut of choice in South Tyrol, a German language speaking autonomous region of Italy (not in the South) which borders on Austria and Switzerland. Got that? Good. Pass the Strauben, bitte schön.
The Netherlands: Oilykoek
You wanted Dutch? You got Dutch. The American donut evolved by way of New Amsterdam from this brilliantly named Dutch confection. It means what it sounds like–“oily cake”. MMM BOY. Don’t you just love the Dutch language? Now through a series of PR makeovers, New Amsterdam is called Manhattan, the American oilykoek is called the donut, and the Dutch oilykoek is called the endlessly more appealing oilybol. Again, exactly what it sounds like.
Schoolyards Everywhere: The Hertz Donut
A favorite from grade school language. Hurts, don’t it?
Donut You Worreigh, Lass
This glorious list more than confirms our collective suspicions that cultures evolving under dramatically different conditions will, on a long enough timeline, all produce the donut. The donut in many ways is the symbol of cultural achievement. It calls to mind similar but less important benchmarks like printed language, or astronomy.
So the next time you’re picking up that dozen for your “business meeting” (between you and Netflix, in your sweatpants), just remember that literally the whole rest of the world completely understands the language you’re speaking. Only you know your guilty little secrets. But we’re all right there with you.
Happy National Donut Day 2017!