It’s almost Lent, a time of fasting, reflection and peaceful observance. The weeks leading up to Lent, however, are traditionally a time to do the opposite, to eat, drink and be your merriest, culminating with the wildest holiday of all; Mardi Gras! Indulge in the spirit of Mardi Gras with paczki and king cake, two seasonal treats that are only available now until the beginning of Lent.
Paczki — pronounced “poonch-key” — is a rich Polish pastry traditionally enjoyed
during the week before Lent. Historically, paczkis were created to use up all the
lard, sugar, eggs and fruit left in the house since you were not supposed to enjoy
such luxuries during Lenten fastings. Deep-fried and filled with fruit or creme filling,
these pastries are a tasty way to celebrate Mardi Gras.
A favorite treat of the Mardi Gras celebration is the king cake.
This decadent delight is wreath-shaped, deliciously filled and decorated
in festive Mardi Gras colors — green, gold, and purple —
representing faith, power and justice. Inside each cake is a tiny plastic toy
that personifies the baby Jesus.
Whoever finds the toy in their piece gets luck, good fortune
and has to host the party the following year.