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Doug Brings the Polish Tradition of Paczki to the Station for Fat Tuesday


Today (March 4) is Fat Tuesday and it is celebrated in a variety of ways, from going out and partying, wrapping up Mardi Gras to making choices on what to give up for Lent, to another tradition that Rob Edwards reminded me isn’t as recognized around here: eating Paczki (Punch-key).

If you were to go around asking people what Paczki is, you’d probably find not many know what it is, let alone how to pronounce it. My family has had this tradition for as long as I remember. For lack of a better description, it’s a jelly-filled doughnut with various glazes on it.

I was once told that Polish-Catholics would make and eat this to use up as many ingredients they could, since some people gave up some of those items during the 40 days and 40 nights of fasting during Lent. Some even call Fat Tuesday “Paczki Day” or “Polish Mardi Gras.” I have heard stories from some family members that said people would eat Paczki until they could not eat anymore, which would carry them over.

Regardless, I can personally attest that the Paczki does not just taste like a doughnut if made correctly, but a lot of people will say it.

Jack & Behka Eating Paczki
Jack and Behka Eating Paczki

I put the Paczki to a test in our weekly meeting. Behka Cramer described it as a long john, especially with the bavarian filling. Jack Miller described it as a sweet long john, only round. Sam Schleicher described it like a jelly doughnut. So much for the idea that it didn’t taste like a doughnut.

I hope you can try them sometime if you’re lucky enough to find them in your bakery. If you do let me know what you think. Happy Paczki Day and Fat Tuesday.

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