Here in Holland it’s a new year's tradition to fry dough balls quite a bit bigger than American donut holes. Some have raisins or cherries and universally they have lots of powdered sugar on top. It seems to be an important part of saying goodbye to last year (old years evening) and hello to the new year. For those who don't make them at home, the stands go up in late November. As you step off the warm crowded bus or tram and the cold winter air and mist hits you, the lights and smell draw you to the center of the square. Although you can’t ignore how cheap the dough, oil, and sugar are, it can seem like a reasonable choice to stop and have one.
Someone told me a few years ago that these weren't just a snack food. During the Industrial Revolution, the coal mines in the south of the Netherlands and Belgium were manually operated (i.e. guys with shovels) and it was very difficult to keep weight on the coal miners during the winter — thus oil balls, “oliebollen” were invented.
Here I am, a hundred years later, snacking on coal miner survival food and dutifully logging the excess calories into my tracking app. Something doesn’t add up.