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The real Paczki story, unabridged

I’m spot treating my mud-splashed pants while simultaneously doing deep squats in my laundry room, and I’m doing both to ward off the effects of an emergency Paczki run. Frankly, I’m a little cranky.

Let me explain.

I’m the granddaughter of a proudly Polish man. I know my way around a pieroghi. Halubki? I can roll cabbage with the best of them. (Not true. No one rolls cabbage like my grandma). Still, I’ve made a pot or two in my time.

I know that Paska belongs in an Easter basket and it had better be braided to perfection because the priest is going to bless it and no one wants the parish priest looking down on their homemade bread.

I know all of this because my Baba told me so.

But, in the 34 years I knew him, my Pap never once mentioned Paczki.

I almost said this when my husband called yesterday morning from outside Simple Simon Bakery.

“You should walk down here and buy a box of Paczki for your office,” he said. “It’s really festive. They have an accordion player and everything.”

Paczki, a Polish doughnut, have become all the rage around here on Fat Tuesday, and why not? They taste much better than King Cake or hot cross buns, they pack up easily and they come in all sorts of delicious flavors. Who wouldn’t want to eat Paczki on Fat Tuesday?

Someone in winter white pants who has to walk through rain puddles to pick them up, that’s who. Someone who may or may not have a few winter pounds to shed and only recently reacquainted herself with her Fitness Pal, that’s who.

Still, I trudged on over to the bakery and, even though it rained a little there and back, it really was worth the trip.

An accordion player stood in the corner and scored the whole scene with music that would have set my polka-loving Pap’s toes tapping. Friendly employees, dressed for the occasion, sold box after box of goodies. People cheerfully stood in line.

I had to wonder, though, as I lugged my box back to the office, when Paczki (pronounced, as every newscaster from here to Chicago will tell you on every Fat Tuesday broadcast, poonch-kee), had taken center stage in our pre-lenten celebration.

I checked my Polish cookbooks and found no mention. I Googled, and then I called the real authority, my Aunt Martha.

“Did grandma ever make Paczki?” I asked in an admittedly self-righteous tone.

“No, she didn’t,” Aunt Martha said.

“I KNEW it,” I said.

“No, your grandma never made them, but your great Aunt Mary did and they were delicious,” Aunt Martha said.

So, maybe I’ve been wrong all along about Paczki. According to an article I found in the International Business Times, the doughnuts have existed since the Middle Ages.

So, possibly not a fad invented just to trick me off my diet.

I’m going to give you Paczki lovers this year, and probably next year too. I’m still a little skeptical, and I’m definitely blaming those tantalizing pasties if the splash marks on my pants stain.

But, for a Fat Tuesday treat, they’re not too shabby.

Smacznego!

(I’m not going to lie, I have no idea what that word means. I saw it at the bottom of an article on PolAmJournal.com and it seemed festive. Hope it’s not too salty.)

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I drove past Simple Simon Bakery very early Tuesday morning and thought it was cool that the reflected lights looked like Mardi Gras colors.

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An accordion player kept things festive when I stopped by later in the morning.

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The friendly bakery staff had fun while they worked hard. They had been selling Paczkis all morning, since midnight!

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Here’s the assortment I bought, ranging from apricot, lemon and raspberry to Bavarian cream. Yum.

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These Mardis Gras bead cookies cracked me up. Very clever, though, I’m guessing, my grandma would not have included these in the Easter basket she took up to the church to be blessed by the priest.

I'm thrilled to have unearthed this picture of Charlie and his great gandpa Micky. Pap was a coal miner and here he and Charlie are sporting company hats.

My Pap Micky was as Polish as they come, but I’d never heard him mention Paczki. (Here he is pictured with my son Charlie in 1992).

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Posted on March 1, 2017, in Family Stories, Paczkis and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Kathy Kostelnik Finley

    We enjoyed some raspberry paczki at our house yesterday. A tasty way to celebrate Fat Tuesday!

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