Fat Thursday

You didn’t mis-read that title, and I didn’t mis-type it. While people all over the world are celebrating Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras), we here in Poland have already celebrated Fat Thursday (Tłusty Czwartek), which is the Thursday before Ash Wednesday.

Poland is a very Catholic country and has many saints days and other religious holidays about which I’m not very familiar. As I am not Catholic, I haven’t joined a Catholic church here and haven’t learned all that much about the Polish-Catholic culture. What I have learned is that you eat pączki on Fat Thursday.

Pączki are filled, glazed doughnuts. I knew this before moving to Poland because, living in the Polish-American hub of central Wisconsin, pączki are available this time of year there. And they are called pączki, not doughnuts, which are available all the time. In central Wisconsin, the pączki I’ve eaten were pretty dense with a prune or raspberry filling that wasn’t all that great. (It’s possible good pączki are available in Wisconsin and I just haven’t had them.)

The pączki here in Poland are better. The dough is lighter and each of the fillings I tried (vanilla custard, raspberry, coconut) were delicious. Some were topped with chopped nuts, candied fruit pieces, a chocolate glaze. Yum.

We were told that we HAD to go out and get pączki on Thursday morning, so Andy left early (while I was still in bed) to visit our favorite neighborhood bakery. He had to wait in a line as many people were already there to buy their Fat Thursday pączki.

I neglected to take a picture before we’d eaten our pączki:

Later that day, we took a tram to a downtown workshop, and I noticed long lines at all the bakeries we passed. The Poles getting their pączki! At the hotel where our workshop was being held, there was a “break table” for participants, featuring water, tea, coffee…and pączki!

So, go ahead and enjoy Fat Tuesday.

But next year, think about starting early. Get some pączki (or regular doughnuts, if that’s all that’s available in your area), and celebrate Fat Thursday.