Today is Fat Tuesday, the last day before Lent. As I currently reside in the south, most people around me refer to this day as Mardi Gras. But not me. As a true daughter of the Midwest, this daughter will forever and always be known as Paczki day.
What are Paczki’s? First of all, it is polish, so nothing sounds like it looks. It is pronounced pawnch-ki, or punch-ki. I think. Who cares how it comes out of your mouth, what is most important is how to get one into it. They are the most delicious donuts you have ever had.
People who were not raised in a town where every third person in your second grade had a last name ending in ski, do not know the deliciousness that is polish heritage. There were multiple Palowoskis in my graduating class and they weren’t even related. Toledo Ohio is not messing around with their Polish heritage, and Fat Tuesday aka Paczki day? They are HERE FOR IT.
Oh yeah, you may think, I saw that weird word on some boxes of donuts in the grocery store. They were filled or something. How could that be special? Well if you would think that, YOU WOULD BE WRONG! Calling a paczki a donut is like calling Beyonce a member of Destiny’s Child. While technically true, you are leaving the most incredible part out. A paczki is not just a donut. It is a glorious creation that never disappoints. Not even once.
The paczki always slays.
It is the richest donut you will ever have in your entire life. Back in the day the lovely polish grandmothers insisted you give up ALL THE THINGS for lent. Sugar, dairy, eggs, fat, it was like a whole 30 but for 40 days. So, the polish grandmothers, not wanting all that great stuff to go to waste, made the richest donut in the whole world with all the things you weren’t supposed to eat anymore. So, God bless these polish grandmothers, made paczkis. They didn’t just stop at the delicious, dense, rich pastry. They stuffed it with all kinds of jams and cremes and then covered the outside in powdered sugar.
Did we already bless these grandmothers? Can we do it again? I love them and their thrifty and delicious ways.
Paczkis are a big deal in Toledo, and lucky for me I drove past the premier paczki bakery on the way to my High school. The ladies in the bakery basic stay up for 48 hours to meet the demand of this day. And you better get up early to get them. If you wait until after school to go get your paczkis you will be left with only the fig ones which, while traditional are kind of disappointing compared to the raspberry jam and custard ones or the lemon curd, or the apricot. I legit just started drooling thinking about them.
But I don’t live in Toledo anymore, or anywhere close to the polish loving midwest. While I am grateful that I often do not even have to wear a coat to work on Fat Tuesday (especially during a year where this day comes SO EARLY. I haven’t even had time to fail at my resolution and need to re-group a la Lent.) but I can’t help but be sad for a paczki-less paczki day.