Every year the Polish celebrate Paczki day. It is always the Thursday before Ash Wednesday. I chose 24 years ago to make it for Easter dinner where lots of people can enjoy this delectable donut, instead of putting in all the work just for the four of us.
Sharing. Sharing a tradition with the whole family is something I take such joy and pride in. This year, we are having 16 over for dinner. With my updated Easter excel spreadsheet hanging on my microwave, I know that TODAY is the day I make Paczki!!
I have no pictures of the process of making Paczki. I have nothing but the recollection of 24 years of angst to something that should be second nature of doing. I have nothing but the stress of making this delicate donut right. Nothing does me in more than this delicacy, and each year, I pray, state mantras, cry, call my Mom, Godmother and anyone else who would listen to me bitch.
My Mom is witnessing first hand what I go through to make this, usually she hears it over the phone. This year, my Mother is here, watching me sweat reading over the recipe for the gazillionth time. She is here, listening to me say over and over again- I AM ONE WITH THE DOUGH, I WILL CONQUER THIS AND IT WILL BE JOYFUL TO MAKE. I WILL SUCCEED IN BEING ONE -IN TUNE WITH THE BALANCE OF WET TO DRY. THIS IS MY HERITAGE AND I WILL MAKE THE FAMILY PROUD. IT’S TRADITION!!
Sick to my stomach, I did it wrong, again. There is a clump in my bowl that is supposed to be a light and airy yellowy sweet dough. BRICK. I have grunted and groaned in between the words of my mantra. My Mother sits quietly at the kitchen table reading the paper.
I go outside, use choice words, pace, grunt, figure out what I did wrong and realized I again, may have added too much flour. I came in with my tail between my legs and explain to my Mom what I believe to be my mistake. I will add all the wet ingredients in the bowl and break off pieces of the clump to incorporate into the wet mix and hopefully, it will be right.
This is the reason I do not have any pictures of this process. It is hard enough for me to get this recipe right, let alone, try to stop and digitize my progress along the way. I would need a stiff drink trying to do both. I need my mind clear as I begin to fix my mistake.
It is now soupy. The clump has turned into a sticky gooey mess. My Mother now looks away from her paper and proudly announces “Deb, you could ask me for help.” OMG, I go outside, grunt and come back in with a smile. I dump the goo and let her have it.
The woman takes my second time failed dough and turns it into the light and airy yellowy sweet dough ready for rising. Was I there to witness how she did it? Of course not, because my tail is between my legs and I can’t stop grunting and we need love and joy in the kitchen to make the TRADITION right.
24 years of this. I think we have enjoyed it 12 times. Tomorrow may be 13.
I will never give up. I swear I am going to, but, I will never give up on the hope that this can be another year I share the delicious taste of the paczki with the family. There are 16 coming tomorrow, 16 people need to know how delicious this is. 16 people ranting and raving on my effort to treat everyone of them to the heritage, the tradition of a fine delicate donut. For the love of Paczki. This year, my Mother did it.