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Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Paczki Power

Posted February 24, 2009

Have any of you ever eaten a paczki? By the way, you pronounce it as POONCH-kee. A paczki is a deep fried doughnut made for Fat Tuesday. The tradition began in the Polish community. In preparation for the lean and prayerful days of Lent, Polish families emptied their cupboards of sugar, flour, lard and jelly and made large batches of the doughnut.

Oakwood Inn owners Doris and Gary Jurkiewicz (pronounced jur-KEH-vitch) delighted the WRAL newsroom today by dropping off three dozen delicious paczkis.

Watch the video!

One batch was filled with a jelly that Elvis Presley would covet. The custard batch won top honors in a WRAL staffer sampling but the lemon batch was close behind. Some bakers put prunes in their paczkis but I have never tried those.  Doris says the custard doughnuts are favored among her guests at the bed & breakfast at 411 N. Bloodworth Street in Raleigh.

Kelcey Carlson remembers Paczki Day in Michigan where she worked as a television anchor and reporter before joining us at WRAL. Kelcey recalls the buzz of activity at the Continental Bakery in Battle Creek. It was a heavenly scent that wafted across "Cereal City" on Paczki Day. Folks stood in line to sample the sugary concoction.

What are your Fat Tuesday traditions? I remember eating stacks of pancakes at Grace Episcopal Church in Morganton. Ben Hicks was the best cook in town. I remember gorging and then giving up something I really liked for Lent. One year I gave up chocolate for the solemn forty day period. Another year I gave up sodas. One year I vowed to stop harassing my sister Miriam for Lent but fell miserably short of my commitment. I haven’t given up anything in recent years but I am working on a plan today. What should I give up? What about you?

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  • GRush Feb 26, 2009

    I have friends who give up red meat, fried foods and alcohol every year for Lent. When we lived in southern Colorado in a small town that was almost 100% Catholic one of the women I worked with ate fish every Wednesday and Friday during Lent. She told me, though, that she had to confess to the priest that it wasn't the giving up of meat and eating fish that was the hardship for her, but the paying for the fish! I've never given up anything for Lent, not being raised in that tradition, but in recent years have begun to try to commit to something "extra" each year such as making a donation to a food bank, volunteering time in service somehow, etc.

  • CestLaVie Feb 24, 2009

    Have any of you thought of calling Doris at the Oakwood Inn, since the article mentions inn favorites?

  • For-Better-Or-Worse Feb 24, 2009

    I order a king cake from a bakery in New Orleans. UPS should be delivering it any minute!

  • fishnett5977 Feb 24, 2009

    I have for the past several years dressed in purple,green and gold on Fat Tuesday and try to give up something that is meaningful starting on Ash Wednesday. This year, I will probably give up sodas. I love Pepsi so that seems fitting. My family is Baptist and Primitive Baptist but I have known of these Catholic traditions since I was a kid. Embracing things that are different what you normally do makes you have a new found appreciation for all things. I remember well when meals on Friday's at home and eating out consisted of fish in some fashion - I kinda miss that because I love any kind of seafood! Mmmm, guess I could do the fish sticks in a hotdog bun like thefensk said. Never heard of the paczki but would be willing to try them. Anyone know where you can get them locally? I live in Johnston County. Happy Fat Tuesday!!! :)

  • axepack Feb 24, 2009

    I grew up Roman Catholic. It was always very strict in our family to not eat any meat on Ash Wed, Good Friday and every Friday in Lent. There was no eating between meals on any day, and we always gave up something. I, along with Bill, failed miserably when trying to give up tormenting my sister. We now get along, so I always pick something I hold near and dear, like pasta. We never really had a Fat Tuesday tradition, but I seem to remember eating pierogies by the handful for Tuesday dinner.

  • wolfpack_girl1976 Feb 24, 2009

    I am giving up carbs and fasting on Monday and Thursday. Last year gave up carbs and fasted only on Monday. I really felt good and it was very meaningful. I wanted it to be something that would be hard to do and it was, I handled it well so I decided to add another day of fasting. BTW - I too am a Methodist.

  • aanda8104 Feb 24, 2009

    I too was born and raised Catholic. We eat no meat on Friday's and fast on Ash Wednesday as well as Good Friday. I haven't decided what I'm giving up, but I do miss the paczki's we use to get when I lived outside of Detroit. I can smell them now. I would have to say that the blueberry and apple where my favorites. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Wish there was somewhere around here you could get them.

  • thefensk Feb 24, 2009

    Growing up Roman Catholic, lenten observances were always strict. Mdoodle mentions the ashes on Ash Wednesdays. Now I'm going back many many decades, but I am pretty sure the nuns told us that they burned the blessed palm fronds used/left over from the previous year's Palm Sunday and used those ashes for the following Ash Wednesday observances.

    I always gave up something, but can't remember any particular thing. When I was very young, we didn't eat meat on Fridays but by the time I was about ten or twelve, that restriction only applied to lent. So I know we did that. Mmmmm, lunch at the Catholic school on Fridays: fish sticks in hotdog buns.

  • tarhillmom Feb 24, 2009

    I'm giving up the sugar in my morning coffee. I thought that would be a very present reminder each day!! Oh, I'm a Unted Methodist!

  • Riverracer8 Feb 24, 2009

    At our Episcopal church, we celebrate Mardi Gras with a red beans and rice meal, a King Cake, and crown King Rex for the year. It's lots of fun. I still don't know what I'm giving up for Lent.

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