Happy Pączki Day!
Who doesn't love a celebration that oozes with custard or jelly?
Today I ate a corporate pączki. It was, not great. But how could it be? When you bite into a pączki worth sinking your teeth into, you can taste the iterative recipe come to life as filling oozes lovingly onto your hands and face, generations of delicious decisions gush out of an optimally puffed and sugar coated pastry-don’t-call-it-a-doughnut, because it’s so SO much more than that. It’s a hard fought, leave it all on the field, over-indulgent rapture that only comes once a year: Pączki Day.
It requires masterful engineering, a skillful job that is not an easy one to complete well. Sure, anyone can fry dough and cram a little jelly in the very center - it’s another to construct spongey, load-bearing walls that cradle a generous gloop of custard, or jelly if you swing that way, to ensure a 1:1 ratio of both dough and filling with every bite. Sure, there are a bunch of places that sell them - but there are a limited number of bakeries in Chicago who have the quantum mechanics to perfect this seasonal treat, and though I now live up the street from one of the finest pączki bakers in the city *shoutout Dinkel’s!* by the time I realized it was Fat Tuesday today AND I came home from working downtown, I damn well knew there would surely be none left.
I’ve played this game for far too many years to get my hopes up that any bakery worth their salt would still have inventory left after 3pm. Usually I make a reservation to pick an order up and structure my entire day around trekking (usually in the worst weather imaginable) to wherever I was able to put in an order at the last minute. I’ve spent many a lunch break feverishly calling bakery after bakery, meticulously combing Eater’s list, being turned down or laughed at when trying to reserve just two in the 11 o’clock hour! I’ve had people offer to pay me triple what their worth because I picked up my order after they’ve sold out and there’s still a steady stream of people coming in, desperately hoping there are some left. I’ve had to buy prune pączki because it was either that or a year of bad luck - because that’s the understanding I’ve been passed down about Pączki Day: to ensure you’ll have good luck all throughout the following year, you eat fried filled dough dusted with either granulated or powdered sugar on Fat Tuesday. I don’t know, I don’t make the rules - I just enjoy their baseless, delicious kickbacks.
With all that said, I was thankful for my busted-ass corporate pączki, because an oddly-breadly pączki with a teaspoon’s worth of raspberry jelly (ughhh custard or die, bitches) is better than no pączki at all. My unwavering resolution to support mythical decadence knows no bounds.
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