Pączki – Polish pastry puts the fat in Tuesday


I had my first Pączki today1 – one stuffed with a berry paste of some sort, and the other with a plum jam. Quite delicious. I was going to eat only one, but then couldn’t help myself from eating a second…

To make it a truly Fat Tuesday and properly usher in the long lenten season, one should follow the path of the Polish to the paczki.

…Pronounced “poonch-key,” the cakes are a longtime Polish tradition considered essential preludes to Ash Wednesday.

At Pticek & Son Bakery at 5523 S. Narragansett Ave., the preparationwas set to carry on through the night, with hundreds of paczkis ordered for pick-up before 5 a.m.

…To understand paczkis or even to enjoy them is to learn a little bit about Polish culture.

…”In the Polish tradition, it’s the last Thursday before Ash Wednesday [that people eat paczkis],” manager Urszula Niemczyk explained between attempts to have a visitor try “just one more.”

The tradition is becoming more and more intermingled with American celebrations of Fat Tuesday, she said.

But for Poles, the little donut is an important reminder of their heritage, said Samantha Kaminski, who works the counter at Oak-Mill.

“It’s a very big deal to us,” she said.

(click here to continue reading Polish pastry puts the fat in Tuesday – Chicago Tribune.)

Jelly filled Pączki
Jelly filled Pączki

Wikipedia adds:

A pączek is a deep-fried piece of dough shaped into a flattened sphere and filled with confiture or other sweet filling. Pączki are usually covered with powdered sugar, icing or bits of dried orange zest. A small amount of grain alcohol (traditionally, Spiritus) is added to the dough before cooking; as it evaporates, it prevents the absorption of oil deep into the dough.

Although they look like berliners (German name), bismarcks (south-central Canada/north-central US name), and jelly doughnuts (generic name; sometimes “jam donut”), pączki are made from especially rich dough containing eggs, fats, sugar and sometimes milk. They feature a variety of fruit and creme fillings and can be glazed, or covered with granulated or powdered sugar. Powidła (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.

Pączki have been known in Poland at least since the Middle Ages. Jędrzej Kitowicz has described that during the reign of August III, under the influence of French cooks who came to Poland, pączki dough was improved, so that pączki became lighter, spongier, and more resilient.

In Poland, pączki are eaten especially on the first day of Ostatki, Tłusty Czwartek, also known as the Fat Thursday (the last Thursday before Ash Wednesday). 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 Catholic fasting practices during Lent.

In the large Polish community of Chicago, and in other large cities across the Midwest, Pączki Day is celebrated annually by immigrants and locals alike. In Buffalo, Toledo, Cleveland, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Milwaukee, South Bend, and Windsor, Pączki Day is more commonly celebrated on Fat Tuesday instead of Tłusty Czwartek. Chicago celebrates the festival on both Fat Thursday and Fat Tuesday, due to its sizable Polish population. Chicagoans also often eat pączki on Casimir Pulaski Day.

  1. two, in fact []

President Bronislaw Komorowski of Poland visits Chicago

Polish Alma Mater
Polish Alma Mater

I’ve often heard people say Chicago has a large Polish population, seems as if it is true. With numbers like this, of course there is diversity of opinions…

[President Bronislaw] Komorowski, who made his first visit to Chicago for the NATO summit, also met briefly with Mayor Rahm Emanuel. At a meeting with the Tribune’s editorial board, the president said the nearly 1 million Polish-Americans in Chicago — the largest population outside Warsaw — are an asset, and the city should take advantage.

During a morning visit at the Polish Consulate, Komorowski saw two opposing sides of how some Polish-Americans in Chicago view his government — one by young professionals who want to forge stronger ties with their homeland and another by older immigrants who want his party kicked out of office.

While Poland leads European countries in economic growth, Chicago and the rest of the U.S. have not kept pace with other foreign investors in his country, Komorowski said. Putting his own spin on a famous statement by President John F. Kennedy, he told the young professionals: “Ask not what Poland can do for you. Ask what you can do for Poland.”

Komorowski encouraged the 35 college students and other young adults to take an active role in shaping relations between the U.S. and Poland. He urged them to lobby politicians for policy reforms, such as the Visa Waiver Program, and to consider running for office themselves.

“I see a climate here that I dream of in Poland,” Komorowski said. “You have a great attitude, independence and ambition.”

Several of the young professionals said they wanted the president to know that they support Poland and value their Polish heritage as well as their American citizenship.

“We wanted to introduce the president to a perspective of what Polish-Americans look like today, not just immigrants but second and third generations that are interested in their community and giving back as well,” said Agnes Ptasznik, 30, an assistant Illinois attorney general who attended the event. “Their parents and grandparents had to take hard jobs, and they invested in them, and it paid off.”

(click here to continue reading President Bronislaw Komorowski of Poland visits Sen. Mark Kirk – chicagotribune.com.)

Not all his visit was dumplings and pierogis though…

Music and Dancing
Music and Dancing

As he sat among the successful lawyers, doctors and business people invited by Polish Consulate General Zygmunt Matynia, about 50 older Polish-Americans gathered on the sidewalk outside the office in the Gold Coast neighborhood, waving Polish flags and chanting “traitor.”

The protesters are among a group of Poles and Polish-Americans who contend that the 2010 plane crash in Russia that killed Polish President Lech Kaczynski and 95 others, including his wife, was no accident but an assassination. They claim that Komorowski, whose opposing party won in a runoff election afterward, has stood in the way of an international investigation.

“They don’t represent the true Poland,” said Casey Panek, an 80-year-old Salem, Wis., resident who left Poland more than 40 years ago. “There are too many (communist) agents in the government in Poland. It’s not completely red, but it’s pink.”

Reading Around on February 17th

Some additional reading February 17th from 01:12 to 15:32:

  • Galoscaves – The technology of building salt-iodine caves, patented in 108 countries, is based on the Black Sea salt, crystallized in natural conditions.

    The sea microclimate created inside the caves becomes an oasis of peace and relaxation for citizens of many countries.

    Since 2000, the Everet Company has been building Galos caves in Poland.

    This summer, the first salt-iodine cave in the U.S. was built according to very strict technological rules.

    Considering the low level of iodine found in the air in the middle-eastern part of the U.S., the cave was erected in the biggest city Chicago, IL. Thanks to the efforts of specialists from the Ukraine and Poland, two caves were built, in which healing attributes are being confirmed by testing.

  • Apple – Support – Apple Expert – Do you have questions or need technical support? Simply describe the issue and an Apple Expert will call you now. Or if you prefer to choose an exact time for the support phone call, schedule an appointment at your convenience. You’ll start at the front of the line—no waiting in the queue, no talking to a machine.