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Beignet: A popular treat in New Orleans

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Anyone who has visited New Orleans is already familiar with beignets (pronounced bey-YAYs). Beignet is the French term for "fritter." A beignet is a pastry made from deep-fried choux paste which is a popular treat in New Orleans. Beignets are fried, raised pieces of yeast dough, usually about 2 inches in diameter or 2 inches square.

After being fried, beignets are sprinkled with powdered sugar. While most people eat beignets as a sweet treat, they may also be savory dishes and may contain meat, vegetables, or fruits. Beignets are so popular, they were declared the official state doughnut of Louisiana in 1986.

Beignets are like a sweet doughnut, but the beignet is square shaped and without a hole. Beignets are considered the forerunners of the raised doughnut. When people in New Orleans say, "Goin' fo' coffee an' doughnuts," they mean coffee and beignets. Beignet is one of the most universally recognized names for fried dough desserts which are basically fritter batter.

Beignets are sold in a batch of three. Perhaps that's because one is never enough. Also, they could be sold that way to be shared with others. Traditionally beignets are to be eaten while they are fresh and hot. Beignets were brought to New Orleans in the 18th century by French colonists, from "the old mother country" and became a large part of home-style Creole cooking that include banana or plantain which are popular fruits in New Orleans.

When friends know you are visiting New Orleans, they advise, "Make sure you eat some beignets."

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