Paczki Day in Chicago: Polish tradition, Fat Tuesday indulgence

February 12, 2013 3:58:38 PM PST
Paczki Day is the busiest day of the year at Delightful Pastries, an authentic Polish bakery in Chicago.

Paczki are prevalent in Chicago, but the best are at authentic polish bakeries, like Delightful Pastries on West Lawrence.

Call if Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday or Paczki Day- it's a celebration of sweetness and calories and tongue-pleasing pleasure at Delightful Pastries. Lent begins tomorrow, and so does fasting from many of the good things in life.

"Paczki are Polish jelly filled donuts that we serve during Mardi Gras week," Dobra Bielinski, owner, Delightful Pastries, said.

But, of course, paczki are really much more than that. They are all the things that make mouths water. All the things we are not supposed to eat. Face it, they are basically donuts fried in oil that are then filled with more stuff we're not supposed to eat. But, eat them we do -- in big numbers.

Ray Helm bought six. He gets five. The other one, well, who's that for? "My wife," he said.

Delightful Pastries is a small, neighborhood bakery. But every year at paczki time they turn out an incredible number of treats.

"So far we have made 24,482," Stacia Hawryszczuk said. "I can feel by my hands. I know how many I make."

The paczki tradition goes back to the late 1700's and a Polish king who loved paczki so much he made them the official pre-Lenten sweet treat.