Personally, I’m not much of a planner or at least I’m not when it comes to resolutions and such. Each year at Lent, I have a terrible time deciding just what to give up and I usually end up putting it off and procrastinating. Before you know it, it’s Ash Wednesday and time to hurriedly swear off sugar or red meat with cabinet full of sweet treats or a freeze full of ground beef to taunt me for the next six weeks.
It seems that the people of Poland figured out the secret to this conundrum way back in the Middle Ages. It pleases me to know that all my preparedness woes can be solved with pastry! Well not just any pastry; pàczki (pronounced pounch-kee).
Pàczki are extremely rich deep fried doughy pastry traditionally filled with rose hip or plum jam. They were created as a way to clear the cupboard in preparation for a strict Lenten diet, whereby Catholics were expected to forgo all meat or meat derived products such as eggs and lard, along with sugar and even fruit.
Pàczki, as a term, is plural which means that you are expected to eat more than one of these delectable delights. And, these days you can find them filled with just about anything including strawberries, Bavarian cream, blueberries, custard, raspberries and apples.
In Poland, pàczki are eaten especially on Fat Thursday or the last Thursday before Ash Wednesday. But in American cities like with large Polish populations Pàczki Day is celebrated on Fat Tuesday or as I like to affectionately think of it as Fat (Bottom) Tuesday.
In Chicago, they have been available for weeks at Polish bakeries and grocery stores. Bakeries opened today as early as 4am to serve the lines of Pàczki lovers waiting around the corner. Some stores even famously give one out for free for the wait. Now that’s a Fat Bottom Tuesday deal to really get excited about!