It’s with a bit of guilt that I tell you about the Donut Whole in Wichita, Kansas. I just got back from Peru last night, and while I loved the trip, there were times when Rand and I both looked at each other and thanked the heavens that we were born with all the privileges and opportunity and excess that comes from living in America.
We live in a land where pork is put into desserts and cakes and doughnuts, and that is no small thing.
In Wichita, I had no less than three bacon-scented sweets: a bacon caramel chocolate (I deemed it mediocre), a cupcake sprinkled with bacon bits (not bad for breakfast), and a maple-bacon doughnut (YES). This last confection, by far the most superior of the three, was courtesy of the Donut Whole. A small, eclectic shop downtown, they specialize in cake donuts, of which I am a fan because IT MEANS YOU CAN EAT CAKE FOR BREAKFAST. If you are partial to yeast donuts, or a vegetarian, you may want to skip this post altogether. I’ll understand.
The shop itself is shrine to … I don’t know. Something. Really, you tell me:
All of the doughnuts begin life in the same way – as a moist dense cake of either vanilla or chocolate. A myriad of glazes and topping are applied – and the results are as creative as they are nutritionally void.
The drive-up window is open 24-hours, which is perfect if you are timid or stoned. There are no less than 25 varieties available every day, lest you begin to forget that we live in the land of the plenty and are the most obese superpower on earth.
We went back twice, and of all the doughnuts I sampled, the maple bacon reigned supreme. The bacon was crispy and fresh, the maple icing smooth and creamy, forming a gentle crust over the golden cake. The idea behind the doughnut may have been gaudy, but there was poetry in its execution.
The obvious downside of this deliciousness is that it’s almost impossible to not feel guilty after eating one. You may begin to wonder what number of calories you consumed (I have no idea – my approach was “Don’t ask, don’t tell.”) Images of starving children may flash through your mind. Not that you will do a damn thing about it, but still, the images will be there and you will feel somewhat awful but you will continue eating the doughnut until it is gone because you don’t want to be wasteful on top of everything (and besides, it’s really, really good).
Though just a few weeks have passed, my time in Wichita seems like ages ago. It’s hard to look back on that doughnut now, and not think about the exchange I had with Nicolas, one of our tour guides in Peru. He was from the village of Pisac, about an hour from Cuzco. He showed us a “typical family” for the region – a mother of 17 or 18, and her equally young husband. He pointed out children from the mountain villages wearing shoes made from old tires. He explained that most of the kids couldn’t afford to go to school, even though it was mandatory. And then he asked me about pork.
“It’s very expensive here,” he noted. “How much does it cost in the U.S.?”
I told him that pork wasn’t expensive. It usually costs more than chicken, less than beef. He nodded. I told him we ate it often, but omitted the part about how we fried it and put it on cake for breakfast.
It’s a powerful reminder: the world is not just, and the playing field is anything but level. Life is difficult for a lot of people, and for others, it’s just a pile of maple-bacon doughnuts. If you’re lucky enough to be in the latter category, be sure to appreciate how delicious it is.
And if you can, visit the Donut Whole.