Around the world, people with access to flour and oil have fried dough.  I have a deep and abiding love for these heart-stopping, diabetes-inducing balls of deliciousness.  Allow me to highlight some of my favorites.

Largest

The South African amagwinya are by far the fattest fat cakes around.  The snack ladies selling lollipops and cheesy poofs at the schools carry these in a big bucket, and if you don’t get there before the kids do, you will miss out.  As big as my fist, these babies will stave off my hunger for hours, even if I split one with Colonel Tom.

Fattest fat cake ever.

Fattest fat cake ever.

Highest SA:V

The funnel cakes of America’s fairs and carnivals compete with the South African amagwinya in volume, but they definitely own every other fried dough in surface area to volume ratio.  If you like that crispy surface, you’re in luck!  Plus, it will be covered in powdered sugar or cinnamon.

Sweetest

Of course, the Americans take the gold in the sugary category as well.  The Boston Creme is a pudding-filled, chocolate-covered pillow from heaven (actually, Dunkin Donuts).

Most delicious

The Hawaiian version of the Portuguese malasada is my favorite of all fried dough.  I love them plain, simply dusted with sugar, and hot out of the fryer.  But they also come filled with puddings (lilikoi, anyone?) and there are some made of poi (who doesn’t love purple food?).  Cape Cod malasadas are okay, but the Hawaiians have raised this fat cake to a whole new level of sublime.

Partaking in the finest malasada in Honolulu!

Partaking in the finest malasada in Honolulu!

Honorable mention

The Kenyan andazi isn’t as big as an igwinya, as sugary as a Boston Creme, or as delicious as a malasada.  However, these simple little angular doughnuts hit the spot.  In some regions of the country, there is even a hint of coconut.  And if they are made by my sister Wavinya, they rival the malasada in supreme flavor.

A rotating schedule for eight rural South African schools is bound to have some hiccups.  Sometimes transport never arrives.  Sometimes transport arrives, but it is the bed of a pick-up truck, forbidden by Peace Corps.  Sometimes transport arrives, it’s the right kind of vehicle, but you find your teacher absent from school.  Sometimes transport arrives and your teacher is present, but they are too busy to deal with you.

These little lovelies ride in the back of a pick-up every day to school.  It's a no-go for PCV's.

These little lovelies ride in the back of a pick-up every day to school. It’s a no-go for PCV’s.

One day, we arrived at school #7.  My teacher was there and she actually had life science lessons on her schedule.  When I found her, she was heading to a natural science class.  “May I come with you?”  Deer in headlights.  That’s okay, we’ll wait for life sciences.

After her class, she came to tell me that she had to take her child to the clinic but that she planned to be back for her afternoon class.  Perfectly reasonable; life is hectic for working parents.  But to keep the focus on training teachers, I vowed to not go down the rabbit hole of substitute teaching.  So I spent some quality time with a text book (a rare treat, indeed) and sat quietly in the staff room.  My teacher never returned, but one of her colleagues brought in leftover birthday cake, so the day wasn’t a total bust.  At least I got cake.

I have no photos of South African cakes, so please allow me to entertain with some of my favorite American ones.  This is from my sister's baby shower, New Jersey, 2013.

I have no photos of South African cakes, so please allow me to entertain you with some of my favorite American ones. This is from my sister’s baby shower, New Jersey, 2013.

Some days are good.  I’ve had good communication with my teacher, we have hands-on activities planned together, the students enjoy the class and perhaps something clicks for them.  I discover something I didn’t know about South African education and my teacher discovers a new teaching technique.  But the merry-go-round of visiting schools week after week can leave me feeling tired and uninspired.  I’d much rather gather my teachers together and do an intensive workshop where I can control the time and they can learn from each other.

The fantastically retro doll cake.  Woods Hole, MA, 2011.

The fantastically retro doll cake. Woods Hole, MA, 200X.

The best work I’ve done here so far was my first life science teachers’ workshop.  I couldn’t wait to do it again.  At the beginning of second term, my teachers scheduled it for the end of the term on 6th June.  I didn’t want to wait that long, but I am here for them, so I shall do what they ask and provide what they need.  I worked long and hard on practicals with locally available materials, activities on topics the learners had difficulty with, and a boatload of handouts fresh from the photocopier at the library (best deal in town).  While sitting at the taxi stand on Friday the 5th, waiting for the public transport back to my school, I received a text.  “Most of the teachers can’t make it tomorrow–can we please postpone?”

Where’s my cake?

Kitty Gato guards a Garfield cupcake.  Falmouth, MA, 2009.

Kitty Gato guards a Garfield cupcake. Falmouth, MA, 2009.