Did you eat a Paczki? Have you even heard of Paczki? I got to enjoy one this morning from the one and only National Bakery in Milwaukee. I mean, people line up early and wait outside in the cold for a loooong time to get their hands on these! Just read this and you’ll see what I mean.
According to the National Bakery, they sell about 36,000 Paczki on Fat Tuesday.
“People may not agree on how to pronounce them, but all are gathering to gobble up PACZKI on Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. Emigrates of Poland pronounce them “Pooch-key” or “Punch-key” or even “Poonch-key”, all are correct.
These Polish pastries were served up annually on the day before Lent, a period of abstinence observed by some Christians. Originally, PACZKI were made to use up the lard and eggs which were prohibited during lent. Now, they’re more of a last-minute indulgence of sweets before lent begins. Whatever your past, all enjoy the tasty treat of PACZKI, which means “little package” in Polish.
The new world version, like the old, is a rich dough deep fried, just like a donut. National Bakery offers a rich regular dough and an extra rich butter dough. The Paczki are filled with raspberry, or the traditional prune. Raisin Paczki have the raisins mixed into the dough. Toppings include a smooth sugar glaze, granulated sugar, or icing. It’s 100% quality or it’s not PACZKI!
PACZKI on PACZKI DAY are becoming what chocolate is to St. Valentine’s Day and what pumpkin pie is to Thanksgiving, as many people share them with friends, families, and co-workers. In previous years, bakeries claimed Halloween as the traditional season that sold the most donut treats, now areas of the country show that “PACZKI” slaes surpass even their #1 bakery holiday of Christmas.”
(clockwise from the top: Lingonberry sauce, candied apples, Lefse,
carrots, meatballs, Lutefisk, and some potatoes in the center)
This weekend, I attended our annual Lutefisk Dinner at the Church of Norway. My extended family – usually about 20 people – has made this a family tradition of about 10 years. We are Norwegian (I’m 3rd generation), and it doesn’t get more Norwegian than Lutefisk!
If you’re unfamiliar with the dish, lemme explain. Lutefisk is dried cod that is soaked in a vat of lye, skinned, boned, boiled, and served with melted butter or cream sauce. Aren’t you salivating already? It is stinky, gelatinous, clear, jiggly, and entirely unappetizing – yet we eat it by the pound! Oh those silly Norwegians. I go for the meatballs.
My sister and I have been attending Lutefisk dinners for as long as I can remember – back when we used to host them at our own church. Can you tell we are Norwegian? Uff da!
And your prize for ingesting a spoonful (minimum) of Lutefisk is a tray of delicious Norwegian delicacies. Pictured here are my favorite desserts. Clockwise from the top: Fruit Soup, Krumkake, and Sandbakkel. Also served are Fattigman and Rosettes.
Krumkake are a particularly coveted treat in my family. If you’ve ever made them, you know what a pain in the rear they can be – so fragile and temperamental. They are delicate cookies that are delicious served as is, or filled with whipping cream. My grandma and my mother would make dozens of them, and they would disappear if you blinked.
Every year we hear about Great Grandma Marie – first generation immigrant from Norway – who would make Krumkake for weeks leading up to Christmas. She would store them in a tin in the back bedroom, which was kept near freezing temperatures, so they would last. Woe to the misguided soul who was caught snitching before Christmas!
As they say at the Lutefisk dinner, if you leave hungry, it’s your own fault. Seriously, it’s just like going to Grandma’s house. The dishes keep getting passed and passed until you’re about ready to burst. It’s such a good time, seeing all of my family seated together at the same table, sharing stories, and eating food that makes you feel like you’re ‘home.’ I look forward to it every year.