Last year, I happened to be in New Orleans for Mardi Gras, and recall it was just a week after the Saints had won the Super Bowl; it was mid-February. This year, the festivities get going a little later, with Ash Wednesday falling on March 9, meaning Fat Tuesday occurs on March 8. Back-timing it one step further, Paczki (POANCH-key) Day always falls on the Thursday before Fat Tuesday, which means today is the day to bury yourself in sweet, fried Polish “doughnuts” the shape of softballs, usually filled with some type of jam or rose petal-flavored preserves. In both cases, these gluttonous days are meant to serve as one last splurge, before moving into the season of Lent, the 40 days before Easter when observers will typically give up meat or some other food item. Enter the pepper-and-egg sandwich at your favorite beef joint, as well as the Filet-O-Fish at your local McD’s.
Here are a few of my favorites this week, with Fat Tuesday-related dishes highlighted in parentheses:
1. Oak Mill Bakery (six locations in suburbs and city – paczki)
2. Lagniappe, 1525 W. 79th St., 773-994-6375 (gumbo, etouffee)
3. Mac & Min’s, 1045 W. Madison, 312-563-1008 (po’ boys)
4. Delightful Pastries, (three locations in town, including French Market – paczki)
5. Heaven on Seven (three locations in the area, but still prefer original on Wabash – jambalaya)
(Would have recommended Alliance Bakery at 1736 W. Division, but they’re only selling paczki on March 8, not on the actual Paczki Day today)