This is the 100th post of this blog. I think it’s traditional to yammer on about how I never expected and looking back and some other measure of blah blah blah. Truth be told, I started this blog with the intention of getting to 100, and beyond. I regret that it took me this long, but I am pretty proud of every entry.
The reminder, as I return from nearly a week with no internet (what do they talk about there in the backwoods of Pennsylvania?), is that in order to write convincingly about life, you have to go out and experience it. Not necessarily firsthand–I have never been drunk (true), but years in a fraternity watching and talking to people who were have allowed me, I’m told, to paint a rather convincing firsthand account of someone getting drunk. For me, travel is essential to experience. There is a feel to anywhere that is not here that is subtly different from here, and although you might imagine it, you can’t know it well enough to describe it to someone else unless you’ve been there.
For instance: Pittsburgh is a city in the midst of revitalization, but the surrounding areas crawl very slowly out of the past, walking backwards so they never lose sight of it. Innovations surprise them–a Home Depot? A Best Buy? Once they are safely visible in the past, they become accepted. But these towns, these hills do not seek out change in the way the Bay Area does, my home of Red Queens running as fast as they can to keep up with each other. I have the feeling that this is true in many rural areas, but agricultural rural areas have a different feel from industrial ones. The plains of Iowa and Illinois and Indiana have the slowness of the land, the sureness of the seasons and the patience of clouds. Pittsburgh’s body is coal and its bones are steel, and it has the weight of industry, the permanence of metal, but also the inevitable decay of rust. In the center of the city, where the three rivers meet, old stone sits in the shadow of new glass, the birth of an urban center in the new era. Steel and coal are still the life of the land, but their day is in the past, retreating every day.
I find it necessary to renew experiences from time to time. Memories can be tricky things, and sometimes we remember fondly things as better than they actually are. All of which is a roundabout excuse for me to talk about Dunkin’ Donuts, specifically the Boston Cream variety.
There are no Dunkin’ Donuts in California, though Krispy Kreme has made inroads. DD tried years ago but couldn’t sustain a presence here. Having grown up in the Philly area, I have many fond memories of Dunkin’ Donuts (at the age of sixteen, with a Cinderella license invalid after midnight, I drove to our Dunkin’ Donuts at three in the morning to pick up supplies for an all-night party that was going on and found no fewer than three police cars in the parking lot; I stayed in the car and escaped arrest, I was sure, by sheer luck). In my recent trip, I passed through the Dallas airport, which is blessed with a small Dunkin’ Donuts stand. Now, I eat donuts maybe twice a year. But the lure of a Dunkin’ Donuts Boston Cream was too much to pass up. We brought it home, and…well, there is a unique smell when you open a Dunkin’ Donuts bag. It’s something in the icing, a sugary aroma combined with the wax of the bag that is immediately identifiable. After inhaling that, we ate the Boston Cream, and I am here to testify that it is every bit as good as my memory. The dough is perfectly sweet and soft, the custard creamy with a rich vanilla-egg flavor that the chocolate icing blends perfectly with. I don’t even want to drink the milk I’ve poured because it would wash away the taste, and there’s something particularly delicious about eating it here in California, hundreds of miles from the nearest of its kin. But eventually you have to, because the icing also makes you thirsty. And then the taste enters into the realm of memory.
What’s your Boston Cream? What kind of details do you spice your writing with?
(There is, not surprisingly, more to read about Boston Cream/Kreme/Creme donuts…above image and one link from cake tourism blog)