So it took me three Metropolitan Markets until I found the polaczki they had advertised would be available beginning today. Uh...WTF? I was very excited that Met Market was going to feature this traditional Polish pastry. Uh...but for some people, like I, these little balls of dough are a very serious and cherished holiday pre-funk.
If you're going to co-opt the baked goods of an ethnic tradition for which you have no empirical basis, like hot crossed buns, paczki or challah, and advertise it like a big event, don't mess around. I come from THE largest population of Polish people outside of Poland, seemingly half of them my family. I wanted my @#$%ing paczki this morning....Although I personally appreciate them trying to manufacture a new Fat Tuesday tradition, it just was not the same for me. Maybe I needed someone poking me in the ass with a walker or trying to clothesline me with a cane since I'm used to being surrounded by incredible shrinking nonnies screaming for their mixed dozens, extra raspberry.
Paczki, despite their look, are NOT filled raised doughnuts. Paczki were a pastry meant for cleaning out the cupboard of all decadent things, to be consumed before the start of Lent. In this country, that's become Fat Tuesday. Fillings can include fruit, chocolate, creams, cheese, poppyseed, almond and so on. The dough for paczki should remind you of a sweet egg bread, almost like a danish in flavor. Met Market's look the right yolk-tinged color, but they taste far too close to a raised doughnut. But I ate my lemon, raspberry, and cream anyway, with help. They were still good, just not "Oh my gaaaahd, we only get these once a year" good.
In Chicago, bakeries pride themselves on their variety of fillings (My favorite was fudge. No, not rich chocolate filling. M-Fing f-u-d-g-e.) At the Busy Bee bakery in Downers Grove, IL, they will sell thousands upon thousands of the things next Tuesday. Today the lower Queen Anne Met Market's case had 18 on display. THey are also advertising the pronunciation as "poonch-key," but I always grew up hearing it "pooodge-key," and I think there are a few more variations.
But Metropolitan Market, for all the Midwestern transplants and all the Polish actual and peripheral, a heartfelt thanks for the nod. Close is good enough for me. This year. Next year, I will expect more eggy, more sweet, and more fillings. My brother and I are available for eh hem research and development.
Paczki are available in raspberry, lemon curd, and Bavarian creme through next Tuesday, February 24th at all area Metropolitan Markets.