Happy March 8 Paczki Day

“Paczki Day?” Now what.

Pronounced “pole-ski”, this is a Polish delicacy famous at Lent, as in “I’m giving up Polski for Lent”. I’m not Polish and my denomination is not known for giving up anything at Lent that cannot be given up the rest of the year as well, but Chicago is an ethnic town and I was eager to have the experience of giving these Polski things up for Lent. What is the best Polski? Anything covered with sugar, I was assured. I obtained one to run through the microwave for breakfast in the morning.

It was coated with sugar. The inside was a sweet, sticky mass of red fruit filling. I can honestly say that if there is one thing in the universe that should be given up for Lent, this is it. Since it was Fat Tuesday I decided to get a small bottle of Polish liqueur as well. The neighborhood favorite is Old Krupnik Polish Honey Liqueur, 80 proof and “prepared from bees (sic) honey and various spices and aromatic herbs according to Polish recipes many hundred years old”. I would sample it with my Australian port.

The product on the left is Hardy’s Whiskers Blake Classic Tawny 18.0% alcohol by volume, an eight year old product of South Eastern Australia. On the right is a partially empty bottle of the very red De Bartoli Willowglen NV Old Tawny Port, 17.5% alcohol, age unknown, product of Bilbul NSW, Australia. The Polish liqueur (in the middle) would have been all right if it hadn’t been upstaged by the port. Initially it had a very strong alcohol odor, but after some of that flashed off, there was a very flavorful and complex honey taste. But, what can I say, I have developed a taste for Australian port.

The amber glasses I discovered in a second hand store. I often meet extraordinary and unique people in these stores while looking for books. On this occasion, when I was checking out, a lady admired the glasses, and I said I didn’t know what I would ever use them for. Champaign, she answered. You will meet the right man, she predicted, and you will drink champaign from them together.

Who knows, maybe that will happen. She did seem very confident. In the meantime, I’ll take the Australian port.

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