Shrovetide, or more commonly known as Mardi Gras are the last days of the carnival, starting with the so-called Fat Thursday (in Poland), and ending on Tuesday with a ‘little herring’ which is usually a gathering of friends or an office party where the herring, eggs and usually a glass of vodka (remember – must be chilled!) is served and seasonal greetings are exchanged.
The next day, the Ash Wednesday, marks the beginning of a great fast and waiting for Easter. There are parades and parties before the upcoming period of lent in places all over the globe with large Roman-Catholic population.
Mardi is the French word for Tuesday, and gras means ‘fat’. In France, the day before Ash Wednesday came to be known as Mardi Gras, or ‘Fat Tuesday’. But in Poland we traditionally observe it on Thursday, well, we usually have to have it our way!
Well, ... it's not like in Rio, where in February the temperature is 30 degrees high, but (!) in Poland you can definitely warm up.
As every Polish holiday, it may be the time of excessive food and alcohol consumption as the tradition holds.
Doughnut - traditional sweets on a Fat Thursday, in addition to caloric value is the best tasting pastry of my life. You can compare it with Dutch oliebollen or Italian panettone, probably the most similar to an American donut.
However, nothing compares with the Polish ‘pączki’ (pronounced like ‘punchkey’) in terms of various recipes and fillings: the simple version with icing or glaze and the more advanced with various fillings: raspberry, strawberry, blueberry, plum, rose jam or eggnog. Sure enough, there will be something to everyone’s taste.
In Poland, Fat Thursday is called Tłusty Czwartek. People purchase their favorite pastries from local bakeries, the more ambitious prepare them at home. Traditional include pączki, which are large deep-fried pieces of rich dough, filled with plum or rose hip jam (though others are commonly used) and topped with powdered sugar, icing, or glaze.
The most spectacular of the Fat Thursday are faworki (angel wings), also known as crumbs - crunchy cookies with a sweet taste, in the shape of a complex bow fried in deep fat and sprinkled with powdered sugar.
I can hardly compare with their taste, mainly because of the incredible lightness to the palate and the kind of addiction or emptying of the plate to the last small crumb to the delight of the cook.
The tradition of baking faworki on Fat Thursday is not as popular as in the 20th century, mainly because a perfect faworek requires a good recipe from our grandmother.
Well, I have one and share with you a picture, unfortunately not a recipe, because it is a family secret ... ;-)