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Food Porn Friday: The last thing I will ever write about the Cronut

Hi!  I'm the biggest douchebag in the pastry world!

Hi! I'm the biggest douchebag in the pastry world!

Let me begin by saying this: If by now you don't know what a "cronut" is -- sorry... Cronut™ -- and you've never even heard that term or the news that's surrounded it for the latter half of 2013, I am more jealous of you than you will ever know. Consider yourself blessed. It's not just that you're blissfully ignorant; you're like Indiana Jones and Marion Ravenwood at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. With your eyes closed, you'll never know for certain just what was inside the Ark of the Covenant once its lid was removed, but then again, you'll never have your face melted off by the wrath of God, either. So, if that's the case, then for the sake of everything that is holy, DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER. Go back to your day, and enjoy it. You're better off for it, trust me.

* * *

Still here? Okay, well, let's crack open the Ark and deal with this thing.

Simply put, the Cronut™ is the insidious invention of the Dominique Ansel Bakery in Manhattan, New York. It is, essentially, a croissant that is shaped, decorated, and sometimes filled like a doughnut. That's it. Pretty simple, really. What happened was that, at some point this past summer, a sort of mass hysteria gripped New Yorkers, fueled by novelty and social media, and all of a sudden, everyone was talking about "Cronut™-Mania!" Much of this owed to the limited supply of Cronuts™ that Dominique Ansel decided to bake every day, resulting in lines of hundreds of people, lasting up to three or four hours, beginning at 5 or 6 o'clock in the morning, hoping desperately to get their hands on the it-girl of the Manhattan pastry world. And, as you can see, Dominique also made sure to trademark the name so that only his bakery could use it, either because he's being paranoid, or just, you know ... French.

That's right: A four-hour wait, at 6 a.m. And that won't even guarantee you a Cronut™, since the bakery quickly sells out of its supply and refuses to make more. Doesn't that sound like fun? Even celebrities who tried to wiggle their way to the front of the line using star-power (the most formidable power in the United States) were turned away like poor little Oliver Twist and his empty bowl of gruel. Laughter, shame, and ridicule.

I was interviewed recently by An Associated Press journalist who was trying to get to the bottom of the Cronut™ phenomenon, which I obviously found absurd. We spoke for the better part of 45 minutes on the subject, and I had much to say. Here's what she decided to include from our chat:

"It better literally be filled with crack if I'm going to stand in line for four hours at 6 a.m.," says Scott Gold, a New Orleans-based food writer who says the only thing people in his city wait for is a special crawfish beignet that happens only once a year at Jazz Fest. And even then, you're only waiting 10 minutes. "Recently I had to get up at 4:45 to get on an airplane. That was to participate in the magic of flight. But for a pastry?"

Of course, there was more to that quote (and, by the way, I was referring to the amazing crawfish beignet from Patton's Caterers, which is better than any Cronut™ could possibly aim to be). I also added that, for what it would take to actually find myself in possession of a Dominique Ansel Cronut™, it better also be filled with detailed schematics for a cheap cold-fusion device, a chemical that halts the aging process, and Scarlett Johansen's personal cell phone number. For those, I'd burden myself with the task, but probably nothing less.

At this point, given the Cronut™, everything ever written or said about it, and the fact that people just can't seem to let their fascination go from what is just, really, a pastry, I've decided that it is officially the biggest poseur of the food world. Regular croissants, doughnuts, buttermilk drops and beignets take a look at the Cronut™, prancing around like a prima donna, and think, "Christ, what an a-hole."

That said, I have, in fact, tasted one of the various Cronut™ imitators, and that right here in New Orleans. The bakery Manhattan Jack, on Prytania Street, has for months been making what it calls a "do'sant," which is a perfectly delightful croissant-doughnut hybrid. Better even, I felt, than the Cronut™.

Again, I'm not going to go out of my way for it. Not that it's stopped even New Orleanians -- we, of the good humor and drunken cheer, even for our rivals! -- from nearly getting into fistfights over them. Who are you people? What is wrong with you, that you almost come to blows over half a handful of fried dough and glazed sugar? It's enough to give one a splitting headache.

So, let's put the lid back on the Ark, shall we? I, for one, solemnly swear that this is the LAST thing that I will ever write about the overrated Cronut™. That is all. Finito. Good riddance.

Now, that settled, I'm going to get back to writing about more important things...like the glories of good French butter and smokey ham on warm, crusty baguettes. No lines for those, thank heavens.

Yet.


Native New Orleans food writer Scott Gold, author of The Shameless Carnivore, has written for Gourmet, The New Orleans Advocate, Gambit, ThrillistEdible Brooklyn, Tasting Table, The Faster Times, and other publications. His Food Porn Friday column for NolaVie offers a weekly mouth-watering photo essay designed to start culinary conversations in the Big Easy. Find him on Twitter @scottgold.