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David Lissner
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In Chicago, Mardi Gras is Paczki Day!

A million Chicagoans will celebrate Fat Tuesday with doughnuts. (Photo by Rmhermen.)

A million Chicagoans will celebrate Fat Tuesday with paczki, Polish-style doughnuts. (Photo by Rmhermen.)

In New Orleans, the Tuesday before Lent, this year Feb. 16, culminates a riotous season known as Mardi Gras. Here in Chicago, some celebrate Louisiana-style, but to a million or so Chicagoans, Fat Tuesday is Paczki Day (say “POONCH-key”).

They’ll be lining up at bakeries to buy dozens of rich, plump Polish-style jelly doughnuts, and maybe dancing the polka. (In Poland itself, however, Doughnut Day is a few days earlier on Tlusty Czwartek or Fat Thursday.) A proper paczek, by the way, tastes fairly different from the doughnut you get at Dunkin Donuts. It should have an airy, slightly chewy texture, and the filling is apt to be made of prunes or flavored with rose petals, though you can find chocolate creme as well.

Here are a half dozen of Chicago’s top bakeries for paczki. Be prepared to wait in line tomorrow.

We also hear that the Polish National Alliance, 6100 N. Cicero Ave., Chicago, will be handing out free paczki tomorrow from 8 a.m. until they run out.

Oh, and be sure to check out the Paczki Pals. Smacznego!