2018-02-11 / Opinion


Loving paczki and playing the Valentine angles

ED FITZGERALD ED FITZGERALD I like food holidays. Most holidays are food holidays as long as part of the celebration involves gathering around a table with friends and family. Though, as the late, great Tom Petty said about relatives in his only holiday song, “I kind of missed ’em, just don’t wanna kiss them.” And because there’s a lot of eating going on you can be sure that one of those relatives will try to kiss you right after you take a bite of food.

We just survived the year’s biggest food holidays. The first one was the granddaddy food holiday of ‘em all: Thanksgiving. Gluttony becomes a joke. I get to sprawl on the couch and loosen my belt a notch or two, right before I queue up for the pumpkin pie.

Then we leap headlong right into Christmas with all sorts of food, candy, desserts and, yes, fruitcake, even if you don’t consider fruitcake to be an actual food. There’s a fair amount of eating on New Year’s Eve too, if for no other reason than to absorb the alcohol. Coming up this week is Paczki Day, also known as Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday, and it’s not to be outdone by the following day, Ash Wednesday, which this year is also Valentine’s Day. There will be quite a bit of food consumed on Valentine’s Day because every guy who’s worth his salt will take his sweetie out for a dinner that doesn’t involve sitting in a hard, plastic booth. The local Polish folk have completely embraced Fat Tuesday, especially in Hamtramck where oldtimey bakeries like the New Palace and the New Martha Washington will have long lines all day long, regardless of the weather. My favorite band, and annual headliner at Lapeer’s Oktoberfest, the Polish Muslims will perform three shows at three different locations in Hamtramck. It’s a feat of stamina unrivaled in polka parody music. Yet another Hamtramck bar will feature a band called Polka Floyd. It’s all good.

And it’s all delicious. Paczki are really glorified stuffed doughnuts. The story goes that olden day Polish bakers, and other Catholic guys who weren’t butchers or candlestick makers, would make a big batch of doughy doughnuts just prior to Lent in order to use up all of their eggs, fruit and lard. They needed to clear the cupboards of anything that might tempt them during Lent. The Polish Muslims have in their repertoire multiple songs about paczki. They even encourage listeners to take part in this food holiday by passing out paczki, just like Labor Day when the band passes out White Castles.

I’m sure there are many other types of food eaten on Paczki Day because in order to have dessert you must first have a meal. Our Polish friends might prime their appetite with a pierogi or golabki.

I will eat any kind of paczki that isn’t filled with prunes. Someday when those dang liberals legalize marijuana, we will not be eating paczki stuffed with pot, but we will be eating more paczki because the pot will give us a sweet tooth. As opposed to meth, a slightly worse drug, which is for people who have no teeth at all.

But let’s not talk about drugs, unless you consider chocolate a drug. Because that will be your drug of choice come Valentine’s Day. We don’t really observe Feb. 14 as a food holiday, but it certainly is a chocolate holiday. You will find yourself automatically giving a box of chocolate to your significant other, even if they don’t like chocolate or they are trying to lose weight. You won’t be able to stop yourself.

Lapeer VFW Post 4139 just got done serving up a Polish dinner last week and will be right back at it with a delicious steak dinner from 5-8 p.m. Valentine’s Day.

If you want to take a break from eating you could always head to the village of Romeo and get a Romeo postal cancellation on your Valentine’s Day card. The feds (postal workers are feds) will then mail your card by way of Juliette, Ga., so your sweetheart will receive a card with the “dual pictorial cancelation” of Romeo and Juliette. If you make the extra effort to drive to Romeo then your Juliet might let you slide with buying her a cheaper dinner. I’m always playing the angles.

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