As I sit here listening to the Ella Fitzgerald classic “Something’s Gotta Give” and pondering how to broach this week’s topic for discussion, I just have to take it from Ms. Fitzgerald and “give in” to the long-suppressed urge to tell all.


 

 

As I sit here listening to the Ella Fitzgerald classic “Something’s Gotta Give” and pondering how to broach this week’s topic for discussion, I just have to take it from Ms. Fitzgerald and “give in” to the long-suppressed urge to tell all.

Confession is good for the soul, according to the old adage, but I am more than a bit reluctant to bare my soul. However, once such a significant decision is made, there is nothing to do except plunge ahead; there is no acceptable course other than complete truthfulness.

So here it is.

I have a confession to make, an admission that may have been suspected, but only by those in my innermost circle of friends. A coming out of the closet, if you will.

I had long suspected there was something just a little bit out of adjustment in the way I looked at certain things, but the reality of my disorder did not surface until a dear friend gave me a book and suggested that it might interest me. Well, it did, and here I am at this critical juncture in my life.

My obsession crosses the lines of gender, class and race. I can honestly say it is the first thing I think about most mornings. At times, I even consider returning to some of the more decadent habits from an earlier life that I can now face squarely without so much as the tiniest trace of guilt.

My careful and thoughtful reading of “Glazed America, A History of the Doughnut” has opened new avenues for me; stamped out more than one lingering tinge of long-repressed guilt, and freed me to boldly walk into Ali’s Bakery any morning of the week, any month of the year, and order up “a couple’a glazed” without even the slightest tinge of guilt.

After only a few pages of Paul R. Mullins’ somewhat academic treatise, I felt empowered to at last fulfill desires that had been no more than unthinkable fantasies for years. The inside jacket cover is absolutely correct when it says, “He confronts head-on the question of why we often paint doughnuts in moral terms, and shows how the seemingly simple food reveals deep and complex social conflicts over body image and class structure.” It’s a definite green light to visit your favorite doughnut shop, regularly, and dissipate.

Now I would never even think of elevating myself to the status Mr. Mullins enjoys, but years of personal experience have given me a bit of confidence when it comes to judging a “good doughnut” compared with one of lesser quality. Well, I’m here to tell you that the product rolled out daily by chef Ali Elzen from the kitchen of his modest establishment in Maryville, Mo., ranks as the best I’ve ever come across.

Ali, who holds a couple of degrees from Northwest and has more than basic experience when it comes to producing pastries to go along with them, has been satisfying the tastes of discriminating consumers from all walks of life since the day he opened his two-table emporium.

My earliest adult memories of craving doughnuts go back to weeknight dates as an ATO at the University of Missouri. As I remember, sorority girls had a half-hour between the end of study hours and when the house doors were locked for the night. Believe it or not, a guy could meet his squeeze, dash downtown for a couple of doughnuts and a quart of milk from the little all-night shop on West Broadway and still beat the curfew.

Moving on to become a newspaperman, my first “find” was Howard’s Donuts in West Memphis, Ark., which had opened between when I was a youngster growing up and my working days there. Thinking back on it now, it was probably a C+, at best. Albany lacked any real doughnut shop — although prepackaged goods (C-) were available from the local grocery stores — so I feel I began to become a connoisseur when I discovered Spudnuts in El Dorado, Ark. — wondrous treats made with potato flour. Give them a B+, at least.

When I first moved to Maryville, Paradise Donuts was an A-. It had chain connections but retained plenty of local color and quality. On to Helena, Mont., where there was competition for the first time. Helena’s own Donut Hole, featuring the “Birthday Donut” was another A-, but it was edged out by the bakery at Van’s, a local supermarket where the head baker and I used to compare the successes (failures) of our Royals and Twins most mornings. An A, absolutely, when the baseball talk was thrown in.

You can imagine my disappointment when I returned to discover Paradise was no longer in Maryville. Then I happened into Ali’s one morning (after a strenuous workout at the Community Center) and my life — and waistline — were changed forever.

“Hey, Ali, I need two, and a Diet Coke. …”

Maryville Daily Forum