Tuesday, March 8, 2011

All Hail the Wondrous Paczki . . .

I begged all day for someone to bring me a prune paczki but not one person took pity on me . . . Sigh . . .


Paczki (pronounced poonch-key or punch-key) is a big Fat Tuesday* tradition. What? You say you never heard of it before?
Paczki are little filled ‘donuts’ covered with a glaze, originating from Poland. They are very fattening, hence the tradition of eating them once a year on Fat Tuesday. But you don’t have to observe Lent or be Polish to enjoy these treats. Likewise, they can be enjoyed any day of the year. They are very tasty and addicting, that’s why it is such a big deal here. In fact, it is such a big deal that every bakery from the mom-and-pop type to the major grocery store sells them. Unfortunately, many of the larger stores’ Paczki are nothing more than filled donuts. 


A pączek is a deep-fried piece of dough shaped into a flattened sphere and filled with confiture or other sweet filling. Pączki are usually covered with powdered sugar, icing or bits of dried orange zest. A small amount of grain alcohol (traditionally, Spiritus) is added to the dough before cooking; as it evaporates, it prevents the absorption of oil deep into the dough.

Although they look like bismarcks or jelly doughnuts, pączki are made from especially rich dough containing eggs, fats, sugar and sometimes milk. They feature a variety of fruit and creme fillings and can be glazed, or covered with granulated or powdered sugar. Powidła (stewed plum jam) and wild rose hip jam are traditional fillings, but many others are used as well, including strawberry, Bavarian cream, blueberry, custard, raspberry and apple.

Pączki have been known in Poland at least since the Middle Ages. Jędrzej Kitowicz has described that during the reign of August III, under the influence of French cooks who came to Poland, pączki dough was improved, so that pączki became lighter, spongier, and more resilient.

In Poland, pączki are eaten especially on Fat Thursday (the last Thursday before Lent). Many Polish Americans [and Canada] celebrate Pączki Day on Fat Tuesday (the day before Ash Wednesday). 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.  {Borrowed from Wikipedia}

Heavenly Chocolate Paczki

My sweet Paczki made of chocolate,
How beautiful your coat
I must bake thee with gentleness,
And caress your coat with powdered bliss
You make my heart pound with happiness,
With every smell and kiss
I love you, chocolate Paczki!

Family traditions

Help us define,
Who we are.”
Susan Lieberman

More than a foot of snow
I had been shoveling, all day
When a powerful craving hit me
I had to get to the bakery, right away
But my driveway wasn’t plowed yet
My old truck, it was still all snowed in
I now bundled up, the best that I could
And started walking, into the arctic wind
I walked and I walked, through that snow
I trudged on, with only one thought in mind
Oh God, please don’t let them be out of Prune,
I can’t face Paczki Day, without my favorite kind.
I arrived at the old Polish Bakery, just in time
They were about to close up shop, for the day
“Please tell me that you still have some Prune left?!”
“Edju, I knew you’d be here; I’ll box them right away!”
“Bless You, Bless You, Dearest Polish Bakery Lady,
And, I will need a dozen Apricot Paczki, for my wife.”
“Ah, I’m afraid that I only have six of the Apricot, left.”
Now I knew there’d be hell to pay when I got home, all right
“Then have you got any Pineapple or Raspberry left?”
Luckily, the dear old Polish Bakery Lady had three
Hopefully, Mean Tall Woman would understand
And if I was lucky, would take some pity, on me
“And before I leave, I want to order four dozen,
For Paczki Day Two; I’ll be here early, that day;
Two dozen Prune for myself, and two dozen Apricot!”
Then I bundled up my coat again and was off, on my way
You see, my dear old grandmother had explained it all to me
Back in Poland, they celebrate two Paczki Days, instead of one
The first – yesterday Fat Thursday, the week before Lent begins
And the second on Fat Tuesday – Polacks know how to have fun
More than a foot of snow,
I had been shoveling, all day;
When a powerful craving hit me,
I had to get to the bakery, right away.
And our dogs were very glad to see me,
When I exhaustedly trudged on back home;
But sadly, they ate some of my wife’s Paczkis,
They all instinctively knew, to leave mine alone.
Today is Fat Tuesday

Mardi Gras Tuesday
Shrove Tuesday
Pancake Day in England
And Fettisdagen In Sweden
Where My Brother Edvard Lives
It’s the last day of indulgence
Before Lent begins tomorrow
In earlier times
People would eat
All the meat, sugar
Milk, and eggs
In their homes
On Fat Tuesday
Since all of these
Were ‘Off Limits’
During Lent
And throwing them out
Would be extremely sinful
 In pre-Christian times
Many Europeans held
Bacchus Celebrations
To Welcome in Spring
He was the god of wine
In my Polish culture
Today is known as
‘Paczki Day’
(Pronounced – Poonchkee)
These deep fried donuts
Filled with a wide variety
Of tantalizing ingredients
Including custard, cheese,
Apricot, raspberry, and prune
Are truly delicious
We order them from bakeries
Weeks ahead of ‘Paczki Day’
But I have to be on guard today
Or my pets will eat them all
Especially Fat Louie
He’s already got his very hungry eye
On my favorite kind of Paczki - Prune
And I only ordered 5 dozen Prune this year
(Trying to cut down a little)
Happy Paczki Day To One and All
Nighty Night,