PÄ…czki Day

Today’s Mardi Gras.  The French translation is literally Fat Tuesday, and it marks the unofficial beginning of Lent, which commences tomorrow with Ash Wednesday.  Traditionally the purpose of Fat Tuesday was, as the name implies, to eat fatty foods in preparation for the deprivations one would subsequently experience during the Lenten season.  I grew up outside Detroit where there is a sizeable Polish community, and instead of calling today Mardi Gras we often referred to it as Paczki Day.  In true Polish form there are a slew of consonants, and the pronounciation is Poon-chi, which written out that way looks far more lurid than I ever realized.  Paczki is the plural form of Paczek, which is a traditional Polish pastry that can best be envisioned as a giant hand-sized donught stuffed with jellies or custards.

I haven’t lived in Michigan in over a decade, and though there’s a large Russian/Eastern Eurpoean contingent in the Seattle area I still haven’t been able to find an appropriate Packzi to celebrate this day — the pastries out here are too small, too meager to really stuff my belly. When I first moved out here 11 years ago I tried to find suitable substitutes, and after several failures I simply gave up trying.  There’s a lovely bar down the street from me that serves a half-pound hamburger with bacon, cheese and mayonnaise on a brioche bun with a side of fries, and that’s probably the most equivalent calorie bomb to a Paczki I’ll be able to find.

I’m still undecided about my participation in Lent this year: the religious pull is always there for me, but the mental/behavioral challenge of giving-up or abstaining from something – alcohol, coffee, parasailing – is also significant.  In a culture that values immediate consumption above nearly everything else, I like the idea of self-deprivation, even if it’s something as simple as not drinking a beer for 40-days.  I’ve got a few hours left to think on what, if anything, I’d like to focus on for Lent.  In the interim, I think I’ve got just enough time before work begins to grab a burger…

2 Responses

  1. So how did Poon-chi end up? End up leaving any habits behind?

    • aaron

      sadly, work snagged me prior to successful burger consumption. perhaps we should solve this issue together next week – burger @ Quinn’s? i could use the support. as for other Lenten resolutions, i’m practicing restraint at this point.

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