SCHAUMBURG, Ill. (WLS) --Paczki Day was Tuesday, but this weekend, Polish bakeries will be busy, in the days leading up to Fat Tuesday.
We all know that Chicago has an enormous Polish population. But where does someone go if they want to buy the smoked sausages, breads and soups that remind them of home?
You could certainly walk up and down North Milwaukee Avenue or down South Archer, but for one-stop shopping, you need to travel to one of the three locations of the Deli 4 You chain in the region. They've been in Norridge and Prospect Heights for over a decade, but their latest store - in Schaumburg - is a temple of Polish food, culture and celebration.
Walking the aisles any day of the week will transport you to the old country, and once you taste the smoked sausage, fish and homemade soups, you'll wish your grandma was Polish, too.
Like a beacon, drawing in Polish ex-pats from all over the region, the Deli 4 You chain - with stores in Norridge and Prospect Heights - has, since May, been attracting them all to Schaumburg, where a massive new store is stuffed with imported goods.
"All of our products and inventory are mainly Polish but we do have a lot of other European products," said Joanna Antonik, one of the owners of Deli 4 You.
There's plenty of herring, that's for sure. But also a massive kitchen, cranking out traditional dishes. The chef used to cook for Pope John Paul II at the Vatican, and here, he makes creamy sauces the envelop cod; hearty bigos - or hunter's stew, plus dozens of hot entrees and cold salads you can pick up to-go.
The bakery is similarly impressive. Loaves are kneaded by hand and baked off throughout the day. Both sweet and plain, some with seeds, others without. Yes, there are paczki here, but that's just one small fraction of what they're capable of producing.
"We make our own bread, we have at least 15 different types of breads. We make all of the food in our hot case; we smoke our sausages and we smoke fish," said Antonik.
Polish isn't a requirement, but it helps. Especially at the meat counter, where you'll need some help deciphering the dizzying array of smoked sausages. Same goes for the sweet section of the bakery, where massive, multi-layered cakes remind shoppers of the sweet traditions from Warsaw, Krakow and Gdansk.
"We love our sweets, we make our own cheesecakes here, we have our paczki, sweet rolls, kolachke, everything we make here as well and it's the best," she said.
In this week's Extra Course, Steve spends some time in the store's liquor section - specifically the beer aisle, where they've got some unique, imported beers you don't see in too many places.
Deli 4 You
560 S Roselle Rd, Schaumburg
4343 N. Harlem Ave., Norridge
9 E. Camp McDonald, Prospect Heights