I am proud to have shared my appreciation of French boulangeries on this site in the past, but, to be honest, there are moments when a croissant just won’t do. Sometimes a girl, even a girl in Paris, only wants a taste of home. What I’m trying to say, y’all, is that I’m coming down with a fever, and the only prescription… is Boneshaker Donuts.
Now, I’m from Memphis, Tennessee, a city known for a number of signature dishes, not necessarily including donuts. Take barbecue nachos, for example, or barbecue spaghetti, or barbecue pulled-pork sandwiches, and, well. You get the idea. We like pig. So I wasn’t sure, at first, why I dreamt only of donuts.
A platter of barbecue nachos does sound great right about now, even as I type, getting fake cheese and pickled jalapeno juice all over my laptop. However, even if I were to find the exact replica of Central Barbecue’s kitchen in France, it wouldn’t be the same. Could I stuff my face with the same joyful abandon if I’m not doing so in sweltering Memphis humidity? Or if the people around me are using knives and forks instead of doing the right thing and getting sauce up to their elbows? I’m not so sure.
Donuts, on the other hand, hold none of that cultural baggage. They’re just good. While I may only eat Memphis-style barbecue in Memphis, I’ll take a donut anywhere.
The donut is not a French pastry. It’s Dutch, originally, but what it has become is thoroughly American. We probably have Homer Simpson and our international reputation as ‘the fat country’ to thank for that, but I’m all for it. At their simplest, they’re just yeasty or cakey rings of dough, deep fried, and coated in sugar. Nothing fancy, everything delicious
French pastries, on the other hand, are fancy. The reason tarts in pastry cases look so perfect and shiny is that they’re covered in a clear glaze. It’s edible, but has no taste. Its sole function is to make the dessert pretty.
Donuts don’t play you like that. Every part of it is there for taste, and when it’s done correctly, that deep-fried pile of dough is just as airy as the flakiest croissant. I’m not saying French pastry isn’t wonderful; I’m just saying donuts deserve some room at the table. Come at me, France.
Boneshaker is one of those places where it’s done correctly. A tiny bakery nestled into the 2nd arrondissement of Paris, it offers donut flavors from a classic chocolate glaze to such combinations as pastry cream with rhubarb compote and swiss meringue on top. Incidentally, they call that one the Mae West, and it’s the best donut I’ve ever eaten. I think back fondly on the afternoon I first had it, realizing from the first bite that I was kidding myself when I’d said I would only be eating half.
Boneshaker donuts bring up all the fuzzy memories of my teenager-hood while adding enough of their own flair to make me appreciate my life in France. When I first found it, thanks to Instagram, it was like I was back in the blue suede upholstery of my Buick Century, picking up midnight Gibson’s for my Mock Trial friends, only I was in Paris.
Paris! 16-year-old Julia could never.
I will say that the price made me raise my eyebrows at first, at 3 to 5 euros per donut, but it is Paris, after all, and they’re made well. Even I, a penny-pincher supreme, am willing to fork it over for these guys. Besides, our arteries couldn’t handle a donut every day, anyway. So thank you, Parisian prices, for teaching us portion control.
Beyond the quality of the donuts themselves, which cannot be overstated, the Boneshaker staff seals the deal. It was started by a Cordon-bleu-trained American pastry chef named Amanda Bankert and her Scottish husband Louis Scott. You’ll often see them in the shop, and you can speak to them in French or in English. My usual tactic is to go in with a nice bonjour, then switch to our collective native language. It feels like changing out of a stiff blazer and into a fleece robe, then eating a donut in it.
Homesickness? Cured. At least until my digestive system has its say.
Never fear, they have a coffee menu and vegan options as well. If you’re not able to visit them in Paris, feel free to stalk their Instagram, which I do daily. Get there on the earlier side if you can, because I’m not their only admirer. They have been known to sell out.
Finally, yes, I realize this is not a comprehensive review of all donut shops in Paris, or anything resembling a city guide. I’m just here telling you how much I love Boneshaker, having never tried its competitors. What can I say? I didn’t date every man in Paris before settling down with my boyfriend, either. When you know, you know.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, Boneshaker Donuts, let’s make this thing official. No need for a diamond, a donut will do.
What’s your favorite place you’ve ever eaten abroad? How do you feel about donuts? Let me know below! I’m always looking for new places to fall in love with.