Chicago, Tuesday, February 21. 2012. Traditionally Fat Tuesday is the last day of eating rich, fatty foods before the ritual six-week fasting period of the Lenten season--a period of abstinence observed by Roman Catholics--that begins on Ash Wednesday and continues until Easter. People celebrate the day in a variety of bizarre ways, but for me it's an excuse to eat some sweet deep fried lard that literally melts in my mouth.
Does Chicago like pączki? Just observe the lines outside of Chicago's many neighborhood pączki bakeries and you'll have your answer. Many bakeries sell upwards of 25,000 of these Polish delicacies for Fat Tuesday. No surprise in the city known to have the second largest Polish population in the world, after Warsaw.
If you haven't already bought or pre-ordered your pączki be prepared for a wait. SMC has put together a list of some favorite spots where you can buy these treats along with what you need to know before you go.
Definition: n. pl. pączki or singular, pączek. A round Polish pastry similar to a doughnut, usually filled with fruit and topped with sugar or icing.
Pronunciation: “Pooch-key” or “Punch-key”, or even “Poonch-key”-- take your pick all are correct.
Meaning: Pączek, means “little package” in Polish.
Fat Tuesday Trivia: Did you know that Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday?
History: Originally, pączki were made for practical reasons, to use up the lard and eggs which were prohibited during Lent. Now, they’re more of a last-minute excuse to binge before the sacrifice. The new world version, like the old, is an extra large dough ball, rich in egg yolks and deep fried.
Cost: Expect to pay anywhere from $.50 to $2.00 plus for a pączek.
Places to buy pączki.
Bennison's Bakery, 1000 Davis St. Evanston, 847 328 9434.
Bridgeport Bakery, 2907 S. Archer Ave. (Archer and Loomis) (773) 523-1121.
Delightful Pastries, various locations.
Lagniappe, 1525 W 79th St.
Oak Mill Bakery, various locations.
Pasieka Bakery, 3056 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Ann's Bakery, 2158 W. Chicago Ave.
Marianos Fresh Markets, various locations.