Whether one refers to today as Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Carnivale, Faschings, or Pączki Day, it really comes down to the food, doesn’t it? Today is a holiday meant for me, except, truth be known, I am not a fan of the jelly-filled doughnuts we Poles devour madly.
This is a pączki. The traditional filling is plum jam. Here in Austria the treats are called Krapfen and are typically filled with apricot jam. Poles also add a bit of alcohol to the dough to prevent the absorption of too much oil when deep-frying the treat. Not sure how the Austrians render their Krapfen palatable.
French chefs brought these treats to Poland in the late 1600’s. I do not know why. Tradition states that lard, sugar, eggs, and fruit were not to be in households during the Lenten season that begins tomorrow, so my resourceful people put the products to good use.
Because I do not enjoy pączki does not mean I can not embrace the spirit of Fat Tuesday! Today a friend and I sought first lunch at Piotrowski’s, a tiny but charming pierogi restaurant in the InnerStadt. The pierogies are made on the premises, by the two ladies who obviously thought my photo taking was a little strange.
In good order my selection of meat (red), potato (plain) and kraut and mushroom (speckled) pierogies arrived. I will admit my bias up front, that I prefer my pierogies to be sautéed in butter and with onions, but I was far from disappointed. Beneath the pierogies was also hiding a small portion of a side my friend and I likened to “Polish ratatouille.” Lunch was delicious.
As an encore we piled on the calories with a melange and buttery tarts at Beaulieu, a French bistro nearby. Not exactly pączki , but nonetheless a fitting observation of Fat Tuesday!