An article by February 24, 2009on
When I was a kid I didn’t understand Fat Tuesday, but I did know that there would be Pąckzi involved. (A Polish word, pronounced “Ponchki”, if you’re an English speaker like I am.)
Pąckzi is the plural of pączek, a small jelly-doughnut-like pastry that packs in more calories per square centimeter than I care to admit. You can only buy them on Fat Tuesday, which around Detroit is more commonly known as “Pąckzi Day” even to those of us who aren’t Polish.
Pąckzi are to us what the King Cake is to New Orleans or “Fastnacht“ is to the Pennsylvania Dutch. It’s a way to celebrate before the fasting that comes with the season of Lent.
At this time in my life, though, it simply brings back memories. I recall one year, in school, a teacher gave us each a pączek — somehow I managed to acquire two more. I don’t know how I was able to eat all of them in an hour without making myself sick, but I think that’s how it works when you’re a kid.
And then there’s the game of pączek roulette you play every year. The rules are simple — the first bite is always taken with the hope that your pączek isn’t a prune flavored one masquerading as raspberry. It’s like the box of chocolates at Christmas where you think you’re eating the caramel one only to find the mysterious orange filling.
This year is our first year back in Michigan, and it’s been at least 10 years since I have had a pączek. It’s one tradition that I’m sure my health wishes I had avoided for longer, maybe having never returned to it. But it’s the spirit of Fat Tuesday, afterall, and I think I can compromise. This year I’m going to stick to oneâ€¦ or twoâ€¦ but I’ll space them out a bit.
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