• Beignets are the official state doughnut of Louisiana. How this tasty treat ended up in the Pelican State is a typical American migration story. From Rome and Gaul, to the Great White North and the Big Easy, beignets are an American success.

    Europeans have been eating fried dough at least as far back as ancient Rome. Scriblita were a type of Roman pastry made of moist dough dipped into boiling animal fat.

    French cooks eventually developed two basic types of pastry: doughs that use yeast as a raising agent, and those that rise with their own steam. Doughs that are moist enough to use steam to fluff up are called choux pastries. Traditional beignets are a choux pastry.

    French settlers brought beignets with them as they migrated to the eastern coast of Canada, a region called Acadia, in the 17th century. Thousands of Acadians endured a forced migration as the British took control of the region a hundred years later. Many Acadians settled in Louisiana, where their descendants became known as Cajuns. Acadians brought their cuisine, as well as their language, with them as they migrated south.

    Today, beignets are most associated with the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana.

    • Unlike most doughnuts, beignets are square, with no hole in the middle.
    • Beignets are usually fried in vegetable oil, such as cottonseed oil or peanut oil. These oils have a high "smoke point," meaning they can reach a high temperature without burning.
    • Beignets are most often served with a thick dusting of powdered sugar, but can also be served with fruit, jam, maple syrup, or even savory items such as meats and cheeses.
    • Beignets are traditionally served on a plate of three.
    • Some food historians trace the choux-based history of the beignet to the influence of Moorish Spain on France during the Middle Ages.
    • Beignets are traditionally enjoyed with hot coffee called cafe au laitFrench for "coffee with milk."
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    Acadia Noun

    (1604-1713) French colony in northeastern North America.

    ancient Rome Noun

    civilization founded on the Mediterranean Sea, lasting from the 8th century BCE to about 476 CE.

    beignet Noun

    square doughnut associated with New Orleans, Louisiana.

    Big Easy Noun

    nickname of the city of New Orleans, Louisiana.

    cafe au lait Noun

    style of coffee with milk.

    Cajun Noun

    people of French-speaking ancestry native to the Gulf Coast region of the United States, mostly the coast of Louisiana.

    choux pastry Noun

    very light, moist pastry dough made without a raising agent such as yeast.

    cuisine Noun

    a style of cooking.

    descendant Noun

    children, grandchildren, and other offspring.

    endure Verb

    to survive.

    fat Noun

    material found in organisms that is colorless and odorless and may be solid or liquid at room temperature.

    forced migration Noun

    the movement of people away from their homes due to political conflict, natural disaster or environmental hazard.

    French Quarter Noun

    oldest neighborhood in New Orleans, Louisiana, and a National Historic Landmark. Also called "the Quarter" or the "Vieux Carre."

    Gaul Noun

    Western European civilization that became a major part of ancient Rome.

    Great White North Noun

    nickname of the country of Canada.

    migrate Verb

    to move from one place or activity to another.

    migration Noun

    movement of a group of people or animals from one place to another.

    Moor adjective, noun

    people and culture native to North Africa, blending Arab and Berber cultures, who established a major civilization on the Iberian Peninsula between 756-1492.

    pastry Noun

    food item, such as pie crust or doughnuts, made from dough.

    Pelican State Noun

    official nickname of the U.S. state of Louisiana.

    raising agent Noun

    substance added to a food that makes it rise or fluff up when cooked. Also called a leavening agent.

    region Noun

    any area on Earth with one or more common characteristics. Regions are the basic units of geography.

    Encyclopedic Entry: region
    savory Adjective

    salty or spicy, not sweet.

    settler Noun

    person who migrates and establishes a residence in a largely unpopulated area.

    smoke point Noun

    temperature at which heated fat or oil starts to burn.

    steam Noun

    water vapor.

    temperature Noun

    degree of hotness or coldness measured by a thermometer with a numerical scale.

    Encyclopedic Entry: temperature
    vegetable oil Noun

    liquid fat extracted from a plant.

    yeast Noun

    various types of fungi that cause the fermentation of carbohydrates, producing carbon dioxide and ethanol.