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Krispy Kreme Tales: A Taste of Home in London

LIANE HANSEN, host:

It's almost Thanksgiving, when Americans traditionally abandon their diets for the duration of the year. It's hard to resist all the eggnog, candy, pumpkin pie, cookies and fruit cake. WEEKEND EDITION essayist Diane Roberts thought she could avoid the sweet stuff by running off to London. She was wrong.

DIANE ROBERTS:

I am in Knightsbridge, walking past the windows of the Harvey Nichols store. They are decorated for Christmas with big-eyed mannequins flying around next to comets and planets. The mannequins are wearing Prada and Stella McCartney; I am wearing Banana Republic.

I'm heading for this nice little shop I know in Beauchamp Place when suddenly, the smell hits me like a 320-pound defensive end: hot fat, hot sugar. Hot damn!. I follow the smell down the Brockton Road. It grows stronger. It appears to be--good Lord, it appears to be coming from Harrods, the megafamous, megaposh, mega megadepartment store. At Harrods, you can buy couture shoes with diamond heels. You can buy a mink-covered commode seat. You can beluga caviar and a golden spoon to eat it with. And, evidently, you can buy a dozen original glazed in the signature red, white and green box.

It is generally agreed that Delta blues, Faulkner novels pulled pork barbecue and Krispy Kreme doughnuts are the finest cultural produce to emerge from the South over the past 100 years. Krispy Kreme started in North Carolina in 1937, a Depression-era cuisine innovation dedicated to adding much needed calories to the Southern diet.

I fight my way into Harrods, past American tourists in brand-new Burberry raincoats, county ladies in ancient tweeds stinking of wet Labrador and X-ray fashionistas in black swaddling and pointy boots. I march through the handbags, following the scent through the sunglasses, through the accessories--Ooh, that's a nice pashmina there--through the Egyptian hall and the perfume hall to the food hall, where pheasants killed on the estates of dukes hang from the ceiling and cheeses made by Belgian nuns sit in refrigerated cases and, finally, there's the confectionery room. The smell is even stronger, even more irresistible: hot fat, hot sugar, hot now.

The sign announcing `Fresh-from-the-oven doughnuts' is lit up just like it is on Highway 231 in Dothan, Alabama, or Monroe Street in Tallahassee, Florida. And there's a tray of original glazed right out of paradise; the sugar still nearly molten, the dough warm as Georgia sunshine. I inhale deeply. I buy two original glazed--OK, four--I run out the nearest door into the cold November air and eat the first doughnut in two bites. I am home.

HANSEN: Diane Roberts teaches English at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

It's 22 minutes before the hour. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Diane Roberts
Diane Roberts is a commentator on Weekend Edition Sunday. An eighth-generation Floridian, she is Professor of English at Florida State University in Tallahassee, where she pulls weeds in the spring and attends FSU football games in the fall. She went to Oxford University courtesy of a Marshall Scholarship in 1980 and earned a bachelor's degree in English literature and a doctorate in American literature.
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