It’s Pączki Day, and in Detroit that means you should be sure to wear your stretchy pants or, as my old friend Denise used to say, your expando clothes!
Pączki, or Polish doughnuts, are eaten on Fat Thursday in Poland and Fat Tuesday in the United States. It’s the last splurge before Lent begins.
When I was still working, my employer provided huge boxes of them with every available filling next to the coffee machines in various areas of the building. My personal favorites are custard-filled and lemon-filled, but they are all delicious (and fattening.) Yum!
Depending on the size and filling, each pączki will be from 400 – 700 calories. Since they are deep fried, they aren’t low-fat either, up to 20 grams per serving.
According to Wikipedia:
Pączki are made from especially rich dough containing eggs, fats, sugar, yeast and sometimes milk. They feature a variety of fruit and creme fillings and can be glazed, or covered with granulated or powdered sugar. Powidl (stewed plum jam) and wild rose hip jam are traditional fillings, but many others are used as well, including strawberry, Bavarian cream, blueberry, custard, raspberry, and apple.
The traditional reason for making pączki was to use up all the lard, sugar, eggs and fruit in the house, because their consumption was forbidden by Christian fasting practices during the season of Lent.
In North America, particularly the large Polish communities of Chicago, Detroit, and other large cities across the Midwest and Northeast, Pączki Day is celebrated annually by immigrants and locals alike. With its sizable Polish population, Chicago celebrates the festival on both Fat Thursday and Fat Tuesday; pączki are also often eaten on Casimir Pulaski Day. In Buffalo, Toledo, Cleveland, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Milwaukee, South Bend, and Windsor, Pączki Day is celebrated on Fat Tuesday.
The Pączki Day celebrations in some areas are even larger than many celebrations for St. Patrick’s Day. In Hamtramck, Michigan, an enclave of Detroit, there is an annual Pączki Day (Shrove Tuesday) Parade, which has gained a devoted following. Throughout the Metro Detroit area, it is so widespread that many bakeries attract lines of customers for pączki on Pączki Day.
This year in Detroit, according to the Metro Times, if you’re looking for other ways to celebrate this Feb. 13, here’s a list for you:
The 2018 Accidental Paczki crawl will take you across Hamtramck to a myriad of different bakeries and bars beginning at 7 a.m. New Dodge, Whisky in the Jar, P.L.A.V Post #10, Smalls, Trixie’s, Baker Streetcar Bar, Hamtramck Moose Lodge #1670, and The Painted Lady are all on the list.
Want to feel a little better about eating a 450-calorie doughnut? Participate in the Paczki Run on Saturday, Feb. 10. Three thousand 5K runners will dash through Hamtramck, only to be met with beer, polka music, and paczki at the finish line.
Rochester Mills Brewery is having their own celebration, but this one is more akin to a Mardi Gras party. They’ll be serving up cajun- and creole- inspired food with live music and drink specials all day. 400 Water St. Rochester; Open at 11:30.
Motor City Gas in Royal Oak will have $2 paczki from Hermann’s Bakery paired with their unique selections of bourbon and whisky. 325 E. 4th St. Royal Oak; Open at noon.
A Mini Mardi Gras celebration at the Monroe County Museum is free and will highlight the French influence on Fat Tuesday. The family friendly event will have lots of activities and carnival games. 126 S. Monroe St., Monroe; 4 to 7 p.m.
Small’s Bar is putting on their biggest party of the year. Open all day, there will be live music, Polish food, and, of course, the paczki bomb. The Hamtramck bar is famous for serving the liquor-infused jelly donut every Fat Tuesday, and they sell out every year. 10339 Conant, Hamtramck; 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.
If you want to get a taste of some of Metro Detroit’s more eclectic paczki variations, stop by The Union General Store and Honcho’s Latin Street Food and Coffee in Clarkston. They’ll be serving specially made varieties like the Fat Elvis (banana custard filling, peanut butter glaze, candied bacon, peanut brittle), the Violet Beauregarde (blueberry filling, lemon zesty sour cream glaze, oatmeal streusel), the Birthday Cake (vanilla custard, sugar glazed and vanilla streusel and sprinkles, and the Blood Orange Margarita (blood orange marmalade, salted caramel icing, white chocolate shavings). Pre-order this pack for $13.95 or get them individually for $3.95.
Eat coney paczki at American Coney Island. The blessed union of Detroit’s most iconic dishes will only set you back $5.
If you just want to eat a paczki, for crying out loud, you can check out this list of places to get them here.
Whatever we indulge in today to celebrate the last hurrah before Ash Wednesday, it all represents preparation for the beginning of Lent, the 40-day period of fasting, self-examination and penitence, leading up to the death and rebirth at Easter.
It is a season in which we follow Jesus the Savior from His temptation in the wilderness, to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, and to the cross on Good Friday. Lent is a season of hope. It looks to the sacrifice of Jesus for the sins of the world and anticipates the joy of His resurrection on Easter Sunday.