Fat Tuesday is here, so it's time to gobble up the beloved traditional paczki!

Many bakeries around West Michigan have been working around the clock gearing up for the expected thousands of people hungry for the beloved fruit or creamy custard filled paczki.

Also known as Shrove or pancake Tuesday and Mardi Gras, the tradition with Fat Tuesday is that it's a way to use up all the fats in the house like milk, eggs and butter before the Lenten season begins. In many Christian communities, Lent is a time of discipline, fasting and reflection leading up to Easter.

There is no doubt that paczki — the Polish pastry — falls into the something fatty, rich and indulgent category before Lent. As these plump orbs of fried dough filled with fruity or custard filling will reign on Tuesday, they also rank up there in calories and fat.

6 things to know about paczki

  1. Paczki is plural and pronounced POONCH-key. Paczek is singular, meaning one pastry, and pronounced POON-check.
  2. Don’t call them jelly doughnuts. The yeasty dough used to make these contains more eggs, therefore the flavor is richer.
  3. While the name paczki translates to “little package” there’s hardly anything little about them. They are bigger and plumper than an ordinary fruit or crème filled doughnut.
  4. In Poland, the day to splurge on paczki is the Thursday before Lent, so it was celebrated Feb. 5 and up until Tuesday.
  5. Grain alcohol is used in the dough before cooking to prevent the absorption of oil so the pastry is not greasy.
  6. On the outside paczki can be plain, dusted with powdered sugar or covered with an icing or glaze.

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