Welcome to the vestibule of the Lent Project.
Lately, it seems like there’s been a push to reconnect to your roots. Companies will analyze your DNA to see where you’re *really* from. I wonder why this is so important, but that might be because I know the general path my DNA has taken through Europe. I was born in the United States and I’ve spent 47 of my 48 years in Canada (32 of them as a citizen, even). I’m happy with tracking my Canadian-born dad > both paternal grandparents to Sicily, and my Canadian-born mom > Both maternal grandparents to Poland. My gentleman associate tracks to the Clan Ranald of the Highland variety in Scotland. So I’ve participated in a grape stomping contest at Festitalia, and I cherish my St. Stanislaus Parish Polish Cookbook. I also happily eat haggis and have the dulcet tones of the Bagpipes (or at least the practise chanter) somewhere in my house most days of the week. So the daily level of heritage and culture in my world is, perhaps, above average.
Today, though, It’s Fat Thursday – the opening credits of Carnivale in most places that celebrate Carnivale. Which is lots of places – Brazil, lots of Europe, a whole bunch of Caribbean islands, New Orleans, Chicago, and right here at the Casa di Swears. Most people realize that Lent is nigh on Pancake Tuesday, unless you’re in one of these particularly Carnival-frenzied part of the world. But nope, Fat Thursday is where it’s at. It’s like the
So today, I wave my Polish heritage flag, because it’s pączki time! WHOOOO!
To the untrained eye, pączki are just jelly donuts. I’mma let you in on a secret. They’re not just jelly donuts. They’re richer. They’re like the difference between brioche and white bread. And it’s not just some dirty old strawberry Smuckers that someone plunges into the heart of a pączki. It’s Rose jam. It’s Plum jam. Oh, soooooo good. I mean, if I can’t get pączki from a proper ethnic bakery, and I’m stuck with the ones in the boxes at the supermarket, I’ll take raspberry or lemon, but commercial bakery pastries are never the same as smaller bakeries using someone’s babcia’s recipe all the way from Kraków or Warsaw or Częstochowa.
But I digress.
I could make pączki. I *could*. But instead, today, I sent my gentleman associate to a bakery on his way to or from work today (since I’m work from home). Norris has filled donuts. They’ll have to work as the settling point of Commercial vs Mom and Pop Bakery, and doughnuts vs pączki.
My gentleman associate, on the semi-regular, will say in a sing-songy voice, to no one in particular, ” Dough-nuts! MMMMM. Dooough-nuts”. He’ll eat them because they’re there. He’ll pine for the lemon-filled doughnut that I ate by mistake because it had been on the counter for 3 days and he didn’t bring to work so I thought it was abandoned. And remind me that I have a lemon curd debt to him.
I will want a pączki because it is part of my heritage that I don’t often take out for a stroll. But more than that, this is the time when a bit of excess comes before the self-imposed scarcity of Lent. I am the only RC kid in my household that takes Lent as the time to Prepare the Way. But the others in my household respect that, and today, there are two boxes of filled donuts in my kitchen. I’ll eat a doughnut/pączki as a symbol of a threshold I am crossing into Lent. My gentlemen housemates will eat them because doughnuts are there to eat nomnomnom.
This Lent, may I reflect on how everyone has touchstones that are vitally, crucially important to their journeys. May I respect it in others, and be gracious when others respect it in mine.
In 2000: Lent -6: Fat Thursday
In 2019: L -6: Poooosh-ka