Tuesday, February 5, 2008

IT'S FAT TUESDAY / PACZKI DAY

As a kid, I used to think the term Mardi Gras had such a festive yet mysterious sound to it. Then I found out that in English, it simply means Fat Tuesday. That was kind of a disappointment. But of course, it’s the perfect term for it’s original meaning, which did not center around drinking your face off and flashing strangers for cheap beads, but rather it was a big caloric blowout before the stringencies of Lent. Enter the Paczki. For those of you who, like me, only recently got clued in to them, Paczki is a Polish word, pronounced “poonch-key.” At one point I was calling them “punch-keys” but have since been corrected. So, what is a Paczki? Last year I was determined to find out. Determined, but...I waited too long.

Every year, about a week or so in advance, people begin anticipating Paczkis. Signs go up in the bakery; people salivate and talk about how delicious they are; they groan over how many they will likely eat etc. But after Fat Tuesday there is not a Paczki to be found anywhere. Gone-zo. It’s the Lent thing. So this year I was ready, and when I started to hear the buzz all over town, and on the radio, the TV news, I got there early. I didn't know what to expect. Like I said, until a couple of years ago, when I came to Leamington from out West, I’d never heard of Paczkis. And even though I grew up in Detroit, which has at it’s heart the Polish community of Hamtramck, I don’t recall that there was a citywide Paczki Day back in the 60s. And since my ethnicity tends to be more boringly WASPish, I lived in a world without Paczkis. But no more! And today I can report to you that the mystery behind the exotic Paczki has been revealed. A Paczki, it turns out, is basically…a jelly donut. But a jelly donut on 'roids! Sweet dough (fat), deep (fat) fried, and then pumped full-to-bursting with (fat) jam or custard, and then either frosted, or dusted with powdered sugar (fat fat fat). Now, I confess I don’t really care all that much for donuts, but in the interests of research, yesterday I ate one-and-a-half Paczkis (one with custard, one half of a fruit). I can now see why there are no Paczkis available once the restraints of Lent begins – because today I don’t care if I ever eat another Paczki, or anything else for that matter, ever again. I feel kind of like Roger Miller right at the very end of that “Chug-A-Lug” song… I think I have a “fat hangover” this morning. Just coffee for me, thanks.

Well, that’s it for the culinary part of this post; now for the music. This is terrific vintage footage - and who better to listen to on this Fat Day than Fats Domino. I think walking anywhere right now would be very beneficial.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18nTpdDKD04

Let's have a little contemporary Cajun music while we're at it. This is the best of the best: Jo-El Sonnier, Doug Kershaw, and Jimmie C. Newman, and "Jolie Blon." Laissez les bon temps rouler! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMBED9lA25E

5 comments:

Quiet Paths said...

Oh, you poor dear. It's spinach salad with no crou'tons for you tonight! These remind me of the Tyrol pastries in Austria. They were filled with a very sweet poppy seed filling, deep fat fried, powdered heavily with sugar and then served with more sugary goodness on top which completely filled the plate with goo. You had that with an ale and then go back to skiing; or start an avalanche - either one.

deb said...

Pastries with ale sure trumps paczkis and coffee. I'm thinking avalanche...

Catherine said...

Hey Deb, maybe no one ever told you. On paczkis day, the menu should read: ONE PACZKIS TO BE TAKEN WITH ONE SERVING OF METAMUCIL.

deb said...

Eeeeuu! Better tell that to the guy who just won the 2008 Paczki Eating Contest in Hamtramck - he scarfed 16 1/2 in...I forget how many minutes ...but it was pretty fast.

Quiet Paths said...

That is just unreal. And it's making my stomach hurt reading about 16 and 1/2. That reminds me of the movie 'the meaning of life': just one more wafer-thin mint.