Yes, today is Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, or, as many bakeries across Chicago like to call it, Pączki Day. Years and years of Catholic schooling and yet this Fat Tuesday tradition had never crossed my lips until today. Here’s how it went.
Based on those years of Catholic schooling, I know that Fat Tuesday is the day you get a free pass to commit the sin of gluttony. Mardi Gras is the day before Lent starts which is when Christian people traditionally give up all the most luxurious foods such as meat, sugar, and fatty goodness.
Because we have to give up food we truly enjoy for 40 days, Fat Tuesday is the last hoorah to get it all out of your system before you submit to a self-imposed drought. There’s more to the religious aspect of Fat Tuesday, Lent, and the traditions surrounding it, but I’m just here to talk about doughnuts.
My first pączki came courtesy of fellow staff writer Dennis Lee, who stopped by Moonwalker Cafe on his way into the office today, where they were selling Do-Rite Donuts pączki. He brought with him a bag full in a variety of flavors. The variety is important to note because this taste test does have one caveat: The pączki I tried was not a traditional flavor.
I wanted to give pączki’s a fair chance and already knowing I’m not a fan of jelly-filled doughnuts, I figured going for a less traditional flavor would be best. I was absolutely right. This frosted, salted caramel-filled doughnut was a delight. More traditional flavors of pączki filling include prune jam, raspberry jam, Bavarian cream, buttercream, and rose hips.
In Poland, the word pączki means “little packages” and this particular little package was delicious. The salted caramel filling and frosting on top paired perfectly with the airy dough that encased it.
I’m still not in love with filled doughnuts. Biting into whatever flavor is in the middle with its mushy consistency just doesn’t agree with my texture preferences. That being said, this pączki experience has made me reconsider having the occasional jelly-filled doughnut, at least whenever Fat Tuesday rolls around.