Tuesday, February 13, 2018
Others may call this Pancake Day, and eat stacks of fluffy disks covered with all sorts of different toppings. Some may shout "Mardi Gras!" and down a mostly liquid, alcoholic diet for the day. A few may still view the day as Shrove Tuesday, with the appropriate confession of sins and seeking of absolution.
But here in Milwaukee, where a large portion of the population has a bit of Polish in their heritage, it is best known as Paczki Day.
What are they?
They are fluffy, deep fried, filled doughnuts covered in powdered sugar. Traditional fillings are prune (which is actually quite good) and raspberry, though many bakeries offer alternative flavorings. The dough is especially rich in eggs and butter, as the whole idea is to empty your pantry of those indulgences before the start of Lent.
On Paczki Day, everyone is a bit Polish.
While I'm not aware of anyone doing an official count, based on reports I've heard from various big commercial bakeries in the area, plus sales at supermarkets and smaller bakeries, I'd say the total number of doughnuts downed today in greater Milwaukee will easily - easily - pass 250,000.
Yup, a quarter of a million doughnuts.
You can, of course, make your own, if you don't mind deep frying at home. There is a recipe at the end of the article here. You will, however, need eat a lot of egg white omelettes (or make a meringue-based cake) to use up the whites left after using 20 (TWENTY) egg yolks for two dozen paczki.
Paczki show up in cities and areas with a high concentration of Polish immigrants, whether recently or in the past. Philly, Boston, Detroit, Cleveland, parts of New Jersey, Chicago and northwest Indiana are all familiar with the seasonal treat. It's not just a Midwestern thing.
I see my boss brought a couple dozen in....one advantage of getting to the office at the break of day is first choice of the baked goods...