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Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Paczki Power

Posted February 24, 2009 10:00 a.m. EST
Updated February 24, 2009 10:26 a.m. EST

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?