Food

Fat Thursday: Poland’s love affair with doughnuts

Today is last Thursday before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. But…what is so special about it? Well, many Catholic countries celebrate Fat Thursday on that day. Traditionally it is a day dedicated to eating (sounds good to me). Lent is a time of fasting, so no sweets or treats are allowed! The next opportunity to feast would not be until Easter. In Poland, Fat Thursday is called Tłusty Czwartek. This is the day when you forget about your diet and eat mountains of fat, sweet and unhealthy (but delicious) food.

Pączki, faworki, oponki… ❤

Poland’s favourite Fat Thursday treats are pączki (poonch-key). They are large deep-fried doughnuts filled with rose jam or other marmalade (my favourite is plum jam), and glazed or covered with sugar. Real pączki are made with lard, instead of vegetable shortening, making them extra thick and rich. They’re about half a size larger than a regular jelly-filled doughnut. Statistically, every Pole eats three doughnuts on that day, so more or less whooping 100 millions of these doughnuts are eaten in just 1 single day. Many offices even have pączki eating contests – to see who can eat the most!

Pączki have been known in Poland at least since the Middle Ages. Until the 16th century, pączki were made with bread dough, filled with pork fat and fried in lard. Later, they evolved into a sweet pastry and under the influence of French cooks pączki became lighter, spongier and fluffier.

But pączki are not the only treat eaten on Fat Thursday. Faworki or chrusciki, name varies in different regions of Poland, are crispy dough fingers, fried and sprinkled with powdered sugar. Deeeeeliiiiicioussss! Another Fat Thursday favourites are oponki, named after their “little tire” shape. They are like mini donuts, fried and then dusted with powdered sugar. It’s easy to eat too many oponki or faworki because they are so small and so delicious.

Fat Thursday calories:

One pączek – 300-400 calories

One faworek – 87 calories

One oponka – 94 calories

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As you can see, Fat Thursday is not lacking in fat, sugar and calories! However, it’s still one of the busiest times of the year for thousands of bakeries around Poland. Poles start queuing early morning to purchase their favourite pastries from their local bakeries. But, like everything else, homemade is always better. My mother always makes amazing pączki and faworki! I have tried made them few times, but I’m not as culinary talented as my mum – well… I am still learning 🙂

paczki-i-faworki

Fat Thursday and eating pączki are really big deal in Poland. There are even several proverbs and idioms about pączki: ‘live like a doughnut in butter’ – meaning to live in clover. Or another one: ‘those who don’t eat a stack of pączki on Fat Thursday will have an empty barn and their field destroyed by mice’. It is believed that you need to eat at least one pączek on Fat Thursday, otherwise you will have bad luck for the rest of the year. So you better eat at least one, I guarantee you that it is worth it. They are super delicious and addictive.

I even found couple of short poems about pączki:

Był sobie pączek, co nie miał rączek

i okrąglutki był jak miesiączek.

Miał lukrowaną złocistą skórkę,

a w środku dziurkę na konfiturkę.

Wszyscy go lubią – starsi i dzieci.

Na jego widok, aż ślinka leci.

Lecz co naprawdę pączki są warte,

to przede wszystkim wie tłusty czwartek.

English translation:

There was a donut, which did not have hands

and he was round like full moon.

He had golden crust,

and in the middle of the hole for jam.

Everyone likes him – the elderly and children.

In his view, the mouth is watering.

But what really donuts are worth,

first of all know Fat Thursday.

Jak tradycja stara każe

w domu, sklepie, biurze, barze.

Wszędzie pączek dziś króluje,

każdy chętnie go smakuje.

Z dżemem, z cukrem, z wisienkami

wszędzie pączek dzisiaj z nami.

Dziś kalorii nikt nie liczy,

wszędzie moc pysznych słodyczy.

W tłusty czwartek przez dzień cały

słodkim królem – pączek mały!

English translation:

Just like old tradition tells

home, shop, office, bar.

Everywhere donut reigns today,

everyone is happy to taste it.

With jam, with sugar, with cherries

donut everywhere with us today.

Today, no one counts the calories,

everywhere the power of delicious sweets.

In Fat Thursday all day long

sweet king – little donut!

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Don’t miss out on this Polish holiday! Join pączki madness, be like Al Pączino 🙂 ❤

5 thoughts on “Fat Thursday: Poland’s love affair with doughnuts

  1. When you say, “many catholic countries” do you mean Poland? I and none of my catholic friends have never heard of it. In fact if I remember correctly, Shrove Tuesday, or as some call it Mardi Gras, means ‘Fat Tuesday’ and is traditionally the day Catholics use up the food in their stores by making pancakes before they fast. This is why Advertisers and Americans have started calling it ‘Pancake Day’. It is the day before Ash Wednesday, the day before lent begins.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comment. Fat Thursday is celebrated for example in Poland, Germany, Italy, Greece and Spain. Norway celebrates Donuts Day on last Sunday before Lent.
      French Mardi Gras or Pancake Tuesday are similar celebrations to Fat Thursday. Traditionally, the idea was the same – to use up all the available sugar, eggs, butter, lard, and other goodness before Lent.

      Like

  2. I had already decided to treat myself to some very sugary treats this evening before any knowledge of this celebration of our collective “guilty pleasures”. Believe it or not, I had picked up some donuts, which in itself is a very unusual purchase as I hardly ever buy sugary treats for myself on impulse.
    Then I come home to find that a large portion of Europe are joining me in this beautiful feast.
    I certainly enjoyed my participation, and I am already looking forward to next year, when I will be much better prepared. Especially once I track down my local pączki trader 😀
    Peace, love and blessings to you ❤

    Like

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