I look forward to Fat Tuesday because to me with my Polish heritage and sweet tooth it is the day of the paczki. I could care less about beads. After much searching it turns out the Polka Deli in Orange is the only place to get good Polish foods in the OC/LA area, and once a year they have paczkis made by a bakery in LA and sell them at the deli. That seems like a lot of area to only have one Polish Deli, but I’m from Pittsburgh and used to being able to chuck a kielbasa in any direction and hit a Pollock so I’m a little biased.
What is this great delicacy you may ask? Paczki’s are like a jelly doughnut, but with fruit filling and the dough is much richer and more amazing than your average doughnut. Sorry Dunkin. The big hubbub about making them on Fat Tuesday is because it’s the last day to party and use up all of the food stuffs you’ll be giving up for Lent—like sugar. I don’t celebrate Lent, but I’m a huge fan of sugar and things that happen once a year making this one of my favorite days of the year. (If you’re in a more Polish neighborhood you can get them throughout the year, but they’re traditionally the thing to have on Fat Tuesday).
The Polka Deli opens at 10:00 so at 10:01 on the dot I called them up: “Hi, can I order a dozen paczki and come pick them up?”
The owner answered, a Polish woman with a strong Polish accent: “You must order 24 hour in advance. Only few left. May not be enough. How far away you?”
In a commandingly serious and worried tone as if my life was in danger and she was warning me to run for it her last words to me in her thick Polish accent were:
“Get to your car!”
Which also translates as:
I hung up the phone, grabbed my purse and bolted to the car.
Buckled. Hands 10 and 2. Pedal to the floor.
10 minutes of nail biting driving later I peeled into the small shopping center parking lot and ran into the deli glaring at the women out front stuffing their faces with paczkis hoarding 7-8 dozen of them in boxes on their table. Terror struck as I realized the mountain of paczkis in front of them may be the last. *nail biting* I quickened my pace and toned down my death stare as it occurred to me that I may be brought to the point of bargaining some paczkis off of these very women I was glaring at if it turned out they had the last doughnuts—oh bitter thought.
I made it through the line inside anxiously watching the women in front of me order while the pile of paczkis behind the counter became lower and lower…finally my turn, “I’ll take a dozen raspberry!”
“Vee only have 10 raspberry, rest prune.” Everyone loves the raspberry flavor and if I take the rest of the raspberry AND two prune to fill out the dozen then that leaves only 8 prune doughnuts left for the four elderly women in line behind me. (Yes this is begging for a joke, no I’m not touching it).
But I’m committed at this point, I’ve made promises to friends and co-workers of delicious paczkis soon to be in their hands–I have mouths to feed….as God is my witness…
“I’ll take ‘em.“