Happy Paczki Day! Or what most people know it by, Fat Tuesday!
I grew up near Windsor Ontario. For those who don't know its across the border from Detroit. We attended a Catholic school growing up. So things like Shrove Tuesday we're celebrated. Shrove Tuesday or Fat Tuesday signifies the start of lent. The day you ate all the junk food before you fasted for Lent. Since foods such as butter, eggs and fat are discouraged from being eaten during the Lenten season, Christians use these ingredients during Shrove to make pancakes or other rich foods, such as paczkis, so that there would be none left in the house.
Growing up, every Shrove Tuesday we would celebrate at school by eating pancakes and paczkis. They would send home the order form, so on the actual day you would have your paczki waiting for you. So, Shrove Tuesday has been lovingly remembered as Paczki day.
Fast forward a few years to 2012, when we spent our first Easter in Sudbury, Ontario. I was gearing up for Paczki day, only to find out no one had a sweet clue what a Paczki was!! Like NO ONE! Bakery's all across the city, no one had a Paczki. I mean, where was I? In an alternate universe? How had no one heard of these.
A year later I took on a job as a radio DJ. I had a small Saturday afternoon show. As we approached Easter again, I was still a bit jaded from the year before, I decided to do a small piece on it during my show to educate the city. I did a bit of research to figure out why no one had heard of it. This is what I found out.
The paczki, pronounced PUUNCH-kee, originates from Poland. It resembles a north American jelly donut, only it's better. A paczki is made from a very rich dough containing eggs, fats, sugar, yeast and sometimes milk. They are very fluffy and feature a variety of fruit and creme fillings and can be glazed, or covered with granulated or powdered sugar. They are made differently then a regular jelly donut.
They have become well known as polish immigrants have come to North America. It started in the US but continues to spread. Windsor is now considered ground Zero for Paczkis on Shrove Tuesday. There a few a bakery's in downtown Windsor, that are well know for their Paczki's. They have family come from out of town to help them prepare and make tens of thousands of Paczkis today! Isn't that crazy? I mean google Windsor and Paczki and you will see what I mean! Windsor takes Paczki day very seriously. The European market has a strong presence in Windsor, which helps put in on the map for Paczki Day.
As the years go on Paczki's are starting to pop up more and more around Ontario. Our last Easter in Sudbury (2015) I was at a Real Canadian Superstore and found a small display of them in the back corner of the store.
Fast forward to today. I was in our local Zehrs grocery store and there are Paczkis galore!! It reminds me of home. As I sit here writing this, I am sipping on my coffee and eating a custard filled one! If you haven't had one before, I strongly suggest you get one! 😊