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You say 'Mardi Gras', I say 'Paczki'

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Posted 02-21-2012 at 06:29 AM by SloMotion
Updated 02-21-2012 at 04:56 PM by SloMotion (title, spelling)

The tuesday before Ash Wednesday, Fat Tuesday ... Mardi Gras ... a Christian holiday and popular cultural phenomenon dating back thousands of years to pagan spring and fertility rites ... being from the north, a holiday I probably would never have paid much attention to if it wasn't for a simple, fruit-filled donut. The tuesday before Ash Wednesday ... Paczki Day.

It occurrs to me while standing in line at zero-dark-thirty, waiting to get a dozen (or so) of the sugary treats that symbolize Fat Tuesday in Detroit ... the weather is unseasonably mild for this time of year, the line is unusually long, giving my mind more time to wander ... but Fat Tuesday is another example of the similiarities Detroit shares with New Orleans.

Detroit was born as French as New Orleans, visitors from the Big Easy don't have to be told how to pronounce street names like Cadieux, Gratiot or Livernois.

They're both cities Jared Allen (Vikings) doesn't like to play in. They both have a rich, diverse history of music and the arts. They've both seen their share ... and they both celebrate Fat Tuesday in their own, unique style.

But you're probably wondering, "WTH is a Paczki?". IDK, I grew up thinking it was just a fancy name for a jelly donut, but it actually has some historical/religious significance. "Poonch-kee" is the correct way to say it, "Pam-Poosh-kee" if you were sitting in my Ukranian Babushka's (grandmother's) kitchen waiting for one of the fresh-baked, homemade variety. It's a deep-fried piece of dough, with filling, fruit being the best and the most common ... at least back in the day. They were a way of using up all the lard, sugar, eggs and fruit in the house in preparation for the fastings of the Lenten season.

The 'Paczki' is pure Polish, and Detroit, having the Polish enclave of Hamtramck (Ham-tram-ick) smack-dab in the middle of it, celebrates this pastry and it's origins ... much like a Mardi Gras. We have a parade, though not as fabulous, we refer to the day as "Paczki Day" instead of "Fat Tuesday" and everybody celebrates this day in one way or another ... some by chowing down, some by avoiding the 1300-calorie confection all together. Some make an annual pilgrimage to popular Hamtramck bakeries, some avoid the crowds and get 'knock-off' paczki's from local bakeries. I suppose it could be considered Detroit's version of the 'King Cake'.

So, 'Happy Mardi Gras' Black & Gold ... is that the correct terminology? Do you wish someone a 'Happy' Mardi Gras? ... and many more. I'm going to have to get down there one day ... it's on my 'bucket list' ... and witness the celebration first hand ... maybe bring a dozen (or so) paczki's along for the ride ... they don't spoil you know, they're like Twinkies-on-steroids.

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    Posted 02-21-2012 at 09:54 AM by Halo Halo is offline

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