If you live in the Cleveland area, chances are you’ve heard of pączki (pronounced poonch-kee), fried Polish pastries filled with jam or custard. Pączki means “package,” or, more precisely, “packages,” because pączki is plural. Pączek is the singular form.
Cleveland is home to lots of people of Polish descent and other Eastern European nationalities. Our neighborhood bakeries and our media feature these ethnic specialties at this time of year.
Pączki are a pre-Lenten treat. (So today is too late). Their ingredients are, traditionally, all the goodies around the kitchen from which you must abstain during Lent: sugar, flour, jams, and so on. You pack all these things into a doughy package and enjoy them while you can.
In Poland, Pączki Day is celebrated on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday, presumably to give the family a week to consume all the pączki. America’s Pączki Day is Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, because we don’t mind devouring all the pączki in a single day.
I can’t vouch for this recipe, but it sounds delicious. How many pączki have you eaten in your life? How many in one sitting?