I completely forgot yesterday was Fat Tuesday. It wasn't until I read about one of the Mardi Gras parades that I remembered.
Fat Tuesday is one of the days I most miss Michigan. We always looked forward to a nice, plump, creamy-filled, sometimes still warm, paczki (pronounced PUHNCH-key - it's got a soft double O sound, somewhere in between noon and punt). Paczkis are Poland's gastronomic gift to the world. Most people look at them and say, "Oh, it's a filled doughnut." Oh, no, no, no. Anyone who says that has never had the pleasure of letting one of those gooey, powdery morsels pass their lips, swirl around the inside of their mouth, and then lovingly slip down the throat and settle into the stomach with a satisfying goodness.
And for those who say they've had paczkis, but have never had one from an authentic Polish bakery in Hamtramck (Ham-TRAM-mick), Michigan. Fat Tuesday in Hamtramck is like Black Friday at Toys R Us. People line up for hours to take home a box or two of sweet goodness.
|Heaven on Earth? Pretty darn close!|
My favorites are Bavarian creme and strawberry. The hazard to liking strawberry is it's very similar in appearance to raspberry. Most people have an irrational predilection towards the latter, making for a very unpleasant surprise when expecting the former.
When we moved to Tennessee, I looked a few times for paczkis without success, but I didn't have too high of hopes because I knew they need a higher concentration of Polish immigrants, like in Hamtramck. I always thought that with all the Michigan "immigrants" to the area, that some pastry shop would capitalize on filling the void by filling the stomachs with lots of sticky sweet filling.
A few years ago, I found paczkis in a Publix. I heard people rave about Publix's bakery, so I thought they might have them. I practically danced to the checkout line when I found some. I prattled on to the cashier about how she hadn't lived until she ate on those. She smiled at me like she was making a mental note to buy pepper spray on her way home.
I buckled the box into the car seat because I didn't want anything to happen to it. I rushed home to give one to my Sweetie, and to my second wife (yeah, I'll have to explain that one sometime), who grew up in Michigan.
Bleah. Oh, the sorrow. They were poor imitations. It was box of a half dozen poser paczkis.
Now I fully understood the sorrow of Lent. (Ok, maybe that's a little too melodramatic.)
So, if on a Fat Tuesday in the future you find yourself in Michigan, or in an area that has a large number of people of Polish descent (corrected), I encourage you to throw off any caloric concerns and heap culinary merriment on your tongue in the form of a little ball of fried dough.