Like many Americans, I have a very diverse heritage. Somewhere in my blood, I have Polish, German, English, Irish, French Canadian, and many other nationalities. One of my aunts traced our genealogy and found even more. The biggest part though, is Polish. (Though with red hair, I tend to claim Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, but I digress…) One of the best parts of having a Polish heritage is most certainly the food. I live for Polish food in general. And with a huge sweet tooth, you can imagine that Paczki Day is a favorite tradition for me.
What are Paczki?
Paczki Day, for those who may not know, is also sometimes known as “Fat Tuesday” and falls on the day before Ash Wednesday for those who celebrate Lent. Packzi (pronounced Poonch-key) are jelly-filled donut pastries. However, NEVER under any circumstances call them a jelly donut to someone who is Polish. We will fight you. Ok, not really, but they are so much MORE than your average jelly-filled donut.
These little balls of heaven are deliciously filled with pretty much any filling you can imagine. Fruit filling like cherry, strawberry, raspberry, and apple are common. You can get them filled with custard or chocolate. Whatever variety you try, DO NOT under any circumstances look at the nutrition information, or fat and calorie content of these tasty little delights. You don’t even want to know. Trust me. Just know that they will be worth it.
Where Do I Get One?
If you are in the Metro-Detroit area on Paczki Day, the place to be is Hamtramck I am told. People from all over flock to the city for these wonderful treats. They line up and wait in what is usually cold and occasionally snowy Michigan winter weather. Its a huge tradition for our area.
However, if you despise being cold like me, you can usually get them at any bakery in the Metro-Detroit area. I don’t recommend going to chain shops or grocery stores, because in my experience, you will not get a true paczki. You will get a jelly donut. It must be an actual bakery. I have had them from Polish bakeries, and Italian bakeries, and they are fantastic. Pretty much any real bakery in the area will have this recipe mastered, because it is a huge holiday in our region.
How Do I Eat Them?
Some people will cut the paczki in half, and only eat half at a time. In my opinion, those people are nuts. My advice is to eat the whole thing down and don’t even be sorry about it. After a few hours (or minutes, if you’re like me), eat another one. Continue to consume them all day until you feel a little sick and kind of hate yourself. It’s one day a year, and they are amazing, so I say splurge. Go big, or go home, as they say.
The point of this tradition has religious ties. It’s a day of indulgence before the fasting and sacrificing period that is Lent.
I am not a super religious person. For me, the significance of Paczki Day lies more in the idea of treating yourself, spoiling yourself, and allowing yourself to indulge once a year.
As adults, and as moms, we seem to find ourselves always sacrificing for our family, our friends, our health, or even our jobs. I am a huge believer in allowing yourself to indulge on occasion. I feel like it is crucial to keeping my sanity.
So once a year, I go nuts and overindulge on this marvelous treat. It’s not my only indulgence of the year, but definitely one I look forward to.
Have you ever had a paczki? Do you have another way you allow yourself to splurge or indulge on occasion? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!