From the Great Lakes Gazette Archives: I originally posted this story on February 16, 2010
It’s Pączki Day and with Detroit’s large Polish population this annual tradition has been embraced by all nationalities, religions—anyone needing a reason to indulge in a deep-fried donut at least once a year.
Pączki (say it poonch-key) may look like an ordinary filled donut, but the secret recipe of Polish Babcias (bob-cha = Grandmas) evolved from the tradition of using up all the fats and sugars for a pre-Lenten splurge before the period of fasting mandated by the Catholic church.
On Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, the lines for pączki form early at bakeries in Hamtramck, the original homebase for Polish immigrants to the Detroit area.
Although now home to a broader international population, the city retains a connection to its roots as mentioned in my Road Food Report about the Polonia and other restaurants. This donut holiday is so popular that pączki are available at most grocery stores across the metro area.
Since TJ is Polish, and some of my best friends are Polish—heck, the kids are 49% Polish— I feel obligated to eat pączki each year.
Funny, though, how selective we who are not Polish can be about traditions and foods.
Plump blobs of deep-fried dough, stuffed with jelly or custard and covered with a sugar glaze or powdered sugar are worth clamoring for; czarnina (Duck Blood Soup), not so much.
I headed to Sweetheart Bakery on Kelly Road just north of Seven Mile Road in Harper Woods for a sampling. They’d made thousands in flavors including custard, lemon, strawberry, raspberry, Bavarian creme and prune, and there was a good number of people snapping them at 98 cents a piece.
And if you wanted one without the calories (or a reminder of the treat to sit on your shelf until next year) you could pick up stuffed Pączki for about $5 each.
Happy Fat Tuesday!