Gone green and can never go back…and I’ve lost Paczki day.

One of the coolest things I discovered when I moved to the Chicago area was how seriously folks in these parts take their “Fat Tuesday.”  Not “Mardi Gras,” with it’s implications of all kinds of excess and released inhibitions and all (Midwesterners don’t generally release their inhibitions, IME), but just the basic Eating Crazy Lots Of Food kind of overindulgence.  Marrying into a Polish family makes it even better, because among the Poles, yesterday was PACZKI DAY!

(It’s pronounced “Poonch-key,” or “Pohn-shkey”–it should have a little Polish diacritical mark under the “a” which renders it dark and nasal.)

Paczki are basically really big jelly doughnuts, but that description doesn’t even touch the reality of the genuine paczki from any reputable long-standing Chicago-area bakery.  They are all a little different, and everyone has their preference, and they come in dozens of different flavors.  And every year I’ve loved them…then over the past year I read The Omnivore’s Dilemma and Food Matters, and watched Food Inc., and basically cut almost all forms of processed food from my family’s diet…lots of organic, almost nothing articifial. It’s just the way we eat now, and it’s literally taken only a year to get there, and somewhere along the way we’ve gotten automatic about it enough that I don’t pay much attention any more.

And then last night my husband brings home the bag of paczki. Big jelly-filled globes, soft on the inside and just a little crispy on the outside, deep-fried but done so perfectly that they were light and wonderful and not the slightest bit heavy or greasy…he brought one each of several flavors, and we cut them up into pieces and sampled each flavor…

And every single one tasted of that oogy Artificial Fruit Flavor stuff that is in so much of the food we never ever eat. I hated them. Not one tasted actually like the fruit it was theoretically supposed to emulate. You know the flavor I mean? The one you find in Kool-Aid and Jello and Hostess pies?

I feel really disillusioned.

So I did a little online search (this is me, of course)–and while I didn’t find anything of use when I looked for “organic paczki Chicago,” I did find a recipe for baked doughnuts and a blog post by a woman who tried to make baked paczki using that basic recipe…I may have to try those next year.  (or maybe this one. Or this…) With real fruit.


Posted on February 17, 2010, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Thanks for the shout out! I agree – I had a bite of my husband’s and I was like “meh?!”

    What part of Chicago do you live? I am in a NW suburb 55 miles from Chicago.

  2. I guess that its not part of the Polish tradition to stuff those things with real jam or jelly? Like home-made? (I am thinking raspberry jam, my favorite.) And there are out there some no-sugar-added jams that dont have all that International Flavors and Fragrances (they make all those phony flavorings!) fakey taste and coloring. I also think King Arthur flour has (or had) a recipe for baked donuts on one of their web pages.
    And funny thing. I LOVE Dunkin donuts apple-filled donuts – but only the first bite. then…Blech!! there are actually apples in the filling but the pieces are sort of glued together with all that other junk!!!!

  3. greenmomintheburbs

    I think what happens in a lot of the bakeries is that they get so slammed with paczki orders that they need to take the really fast route, which means I suspect they get their Gooey Fruit Filling from the same generic supplier.

    (I live in the SW burbs, only about 40 minutes from the lake…)

  1. Pingback: Fat Tuesday « Biggest Diabetic Loser

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