Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Happy Paczki Day Indeed, Mary

     It's one of the few Michigan traditions I do miss.  For non-Michiganders, it's Fat Tuesday.  For a long time growing up, I didn't actually know what Fat Tuesday was, but I knew what pacski day was.  (Quick disclosure: a pacski is a Polish pastry, not unlike a doughnut, but more awesome.  It's pronounced like poonchki, kind of.  You can read more about them here.)
     The moment my dad would walk in the front door with the giant pastry box was better than Christmas morning.  He always ordered his way ahead, and would usually get two dozen.  If mom prepared dinner that night, it was going to go completely unnoticed.  We tore open the box and divvied up our pacski.  My favorite were the powdered ones with custard, even though I don't think that's a traditional Polish filling.  It's embarrassing now, but no shit, we would put down three each.  Easy.  He did this for as long as I can remember.  He would actually leave work early on paczki day to make sure he got his.  He would work on Christmas Eve, but damn it, those pacski meant something.    
     Holidays that revolve around food are my favorite.  This is a very regional holiday, and the mania is difficult to describe to outsiders.  It's easy to explain the hullabaloo of Mardi Gras.  But the hullabaloo of the paczki?  Maybe you have to be from Michigan to understand that.  (According to the internet, other places celebrate it  like Buffalo, Toledo, Cleveland, Milwaukee, South Bend, and Windsor.  So I guess they get it too.)  I often had to explain it to me new Michigan transplant friends at college. 
     Yes, we order our paczki weeks in advance.  Yes, there is a parade.  Well, they're like doughnuts, but they're more dense, and more fattening, and just way better.  Yes, I will skip class to go buy paczki.  Yes, I will call my parents so we can compare paczki from Ann Arbor, the paczki my mom got from the hometown bakery at lunch, and the dozen my dad brought home from a bakery in Detroit. Because it's a thing, and it's important, that's why.  Now excuse me while I go gain at least ten pounds in about 45 seconds.  
     Happy Paczki Day! 

1 comment:

  1. Did you see this line in the wikipedia post? It's my favorite.

    "Traditionally, the reason for making pączki was to use up all the lard, sugar, eggs and fruit in the house, because they were forbidden to be consumed due to Catholic fasting practices during Lent."

    Go lard, sugar, eggs and fruit! Yeah!