I'm sure that some of you know that today is Fat Tuesday-the "last" day to pig out before the 40 days of Lent. Here in Michigan (and I'm sure a few other pockets of the mid-west), it is also Pączki Day, a day where we all make a mad run to bakeries to pick up our Pączki.
After asking on Twitter yesterday and seeing that hardly anyone knew what a pączki was, I figured I might as well let you know, in case you ever find yourself up here on Fat Tuesday in the future. :) A pączki is a Polish pastry, very similar to a doughnut, that is filled with fruit or cream. They are different than jelly-filled doughnuts because of the ingredients to make the dough. These contain eggs, sugar, milk, as well as various kinds of fat (think lots of butter and lard). Many times, they are rolled around in sugar. They are far richer than a doughnut and MUCH bigger. These things pack some serious calories, but since you only eat them one day a year, that's not too bad, right? :)
From what I've read online, pączki are big in places where there are large Polish communities in the United States. Hamtramck, an area in Detroit, is a Polish-American center, so I have grown up with the tradition. My mom would always buy us a big box of pączki to celebrate the day, and I always ate my pączki in place of a meal (they can be over 500 calories each with 27 grams of fat!).
In Poland, they are typically eaten on Fat Thursday-the last Thursday before Ash Wednesday-to rid the house of anything fatty in preparation for Lent. The idea is that you would be fasting for much of the time during Lent, so it was best to get rid of these kinds of temptations before the 40 days started. Here in the United States, we eat them on Fat Tuesday as a last hurrah before fasting for Lent. Now, I'm sure that many people around here eat them because they are just plain delicious and not for the religious history. But I do think it is a great way to celebrate a little Old World Tradition....while eating something insanely delicious and fattening.
There is also a celebratory parade down in Hamtramck today, and I am sure there are all kinds of other Polish yummies waiting to be eaten (pierogies anyone?). As for myself, I'm going to be walking down to the bakery in our little downtown area to pick up my order of pączki. I'm glad I ordered them ahead of time, since sometimes there are huge lines!
Anyone else know about pączki? I'm led to believe it is a mid-west thing, but I'd love to know if anyone else is eating one today!