It’s raw here today — the kind of dreary, blustery day whose damp winds suddenly knife through your coat, sting your face until it burns, and force the tears to leak from your eyes. It’s the kind of day that makes you wish they would call off school/work for “extreme grayness” so at least we could all stay in our pajamas, drink hot chocolate, play games, and watch “The Avengers.” Not that I’ve given it all that much thought. Ahem.
But there’s work to be done, errands to be run, kids to chauffeur thither and yon. Only one thing could really brighten up my crew this morning: the return of the paczki.
Paczki, pronounced “poonch-key,” are akin to jelly-filled donuts, but these are denser, sweeter dough discs (per my husband) made by Polish bakers to use up the ingredients in their pantries before the start of Lent. There are all kinds of fillings; I’m partial to strawberry, but my kids like the cheese or apple-filled ones. These pastries are — to put it mildly — ridiculously good. And so addictive.
Finding proper paczki is a huge thing in Chicago. At Polish bakeries tomorrow, there’ll be such long lines of people waiting for their once-a-year fix that it’ll be one of the top stories on the local news. As a transplant, I’d never heard of them until I lived here, but I now understand that they are as much as part of Mardi Gras here as jambalaya and parades are in New Orleans.
Besides, they’re just fun. And did I mention delicious?
Even though the real Paczki Day is tomorrow on Fat Tuesday, over the weekend we bought a few boxes to eat and to share. But because drastically gray days call for drastic measures to get everyone up and running and out the door, we broke into them today.
And then I sent those sugar-filled kids to school. I don’t regret it a bit.
Ever heard of paczki or had one? What’s your favorite? Got any other “must-eats” (like a Shamrock Shake) this time of year?