I’m the opposite of my mother and dessert is my THING. I pride myself on my baking skills—something I excel at probably because I love sugar so much. The “sweet tooth’’—which I definitely got from my dad—is a weakness of mine.
Being an East Coast transplant, I can say with certainty there are a few key things the West is missing—good bagels, good pizza and until recently Dunkin’ Donuts. Taste-wise, I don’t really get the Dunkin’ Donuts thing—although the munchkins are great (they were always a special treat at class parties in elementary school) and I do have a little nostalgia for their Boston Cream. But I much prefer a fresh donut from a mom and pop shop. What can I say, I was spoiled by the smell of fresh donuts every day the summer I worked on Nantucket (arguably one of the worst summers ever, if not for those fresh, warm, fried donuts . . . and ice cream).
A lot of my fellow East Coasters out here crave Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffee. That’s like the first thing they get when they’re off the plane at the airport back home. A real bagel is the first thing I need. So you can imagine the hype this past summer when it was announced that a DD would be opening in Santa Monica.
The first few weeks it was open (beginning of September) people waited in line for over an hour. Over an hour for Dunkin’ Donuts!! For my sweet tooth, the only thing worth that kind of waiting is a cronut (Yes, I’m guilty, two hours in line). I don’t think ANYONE in New York would ever wait that long at a DD. There would be riots. Out here places like Starbucks, etc., just don’t have the same East Coast urgency; maybe we really are a little more laid back when it comes to long lines and waits. Twenty minutes was all I had to wait by the time nostalgia, coupled with some pretty great iced coffee and a few munchkins, got me to Dunkin’ Donuts—which, I confess, has made California a very happy place (more locations are expected to open over the next few years).
So many places and things are cloaked in nostalgia but food has to be near the top of the list when it comes to the memories it holds. My aunt’s apple pie, or Grandma’s French toast, or those amazing nachos at Sunset Cantina in Boston—the different things we remember take us back to certain times in our lives, or traditions that warm our hearts. I haven’t read Proust but my mom has told me enough times about the madeleine as an example of how taste and smell evoke involuntary memory—something similar to nostalgia. Food is “comforting”—sometimes too much so—and for those of us missing the East Coast, bringing one thing out here from it takes us that much closer to home. I still only order cappuccinos for the steamed milk foam on top (I used to spoon it from my mom’s cup) and don’t try to replace it with whipped cream! I want that foamy milk.
I’m also a member of sugarholics not-so-anonymous and totally have a problem and now all I can think about is munchkins. Thankfully Santa Monica is just so far away in all times of traffic, so I’m safe . . . for now.