Whether you celebrate Carnaval, Mardi Gras, or Shrove Tuesday, tomorrow will mean the last day of indulgence for the next 40 days, at least if you follow the Christian religion. Coming from a family with a strong Catholic-Polish background – and from Detroit no less! – we never really celebrated, Mardi Gras or Carnaval – to us, it was known as Paczki Day. A Polish specialty, the paczki is a round, deep-fried donut, usually filled with cream, jelly, or custard, and then sprinkled with powdered sugar.
This calorie-laden treat has been made for hundreds of years and originated as a way to use all of the forbidden food items in the house before lent – such as eggs and sugar. I remember going to Catholic school and having paczkis the day before Ash Wednesday – the day before Lenten fasting. All of my friends were so excited to see what donut flavors our teachers had brought in for this special day. We eyed all of the round puffs of dough with great anticipation, hoping to choose just the right flavor. For me, it was the custard-filled paczki.
And, it didn’t stop at school. We would all rush home to find more paczkis waiting for us as an afternoon snack or our after-dinner dessert. My brothers and I would eat so many of them that our stomachs would ache. I would then swear off paczkis, vowing never to have one again. But each year, I would forget these temporary paczki side-effects and come back for more.
After many years of eating these indulgent donuts, I gave up eating paczkis around the time I started college. With at least 300-400 calories in each paczki, I realized that even indulging in these pastries once a year was not a good idea for my waistline. I’ve only recently started to eat them again. It’s rather hard to avoid them when my work has more than 5 dozen delivered to the office around this time each year. Oh well, it’s Fat Tuesday after all – the day where calories don’t matter. Besides, after one day of indulgence, I will have 40 days of fasting to burn off all of those calories.