If doughnuts could be searched on Ancestry.com, their family lineage would include a sweet French relative known as the beignet (pronounced ben-YAY). The original beignet-a fried pastry sometimes filled with fruit-was brought to Louisiana in the 18th century by French colonists.
It proved to be immensely popular, even becoming the Pelican State's official doughnut in 1986. Despite its fancy name, the beignet is basically a square piece of dough, deep-fried and dusted with powdered sugar. Eat one and you'll want another, which is probably why they are traditionally served in threes.
And beignets are huge in Chicago right now.
Check out these area restaurants for a taste of traditional square beignets:
Jimmy's Pizza Café, 5159 N. Lincoln Ave. (fresh and available all day every day)
Big Jones, 5347 N. Clark St. (Saturday and Sunday brunch only)
Grand Lux Café, 600 N. Michigan Ave. (served as dessert with chocolate, vanilla and raspberry dipping sauces; takes 30 minutes from time of order)
Kathy Woods is a freelance writer and mom living Oak Park.