pączki for the mardi gras win

Mardi Gras is serious fun in the South–especially New Orleans and Mobile–where the Krewe fêtes are plentiful, the parades are noisy and joyful, and King Cake comes in all different flavors and varieties. In the North where you can find Polish bakeries, Mardi Gras means pączki (pronounced ponch-key). And these calorie-busting, jelly-filled doughnuts at local bakeries draw long lines.

Paczki Mardi Gras Chicago Illinois

Source: Melissa Wang via Flickr

Pączki are also enjoyed on Fat Thursday (Tłusty Czwartek), and the reason for making pączki is to use up all of the ingredients (lard, sugar, eggs, fruit) before Lent kicks in. Bridgeport Bakery on S. Archer in the South Side of Chicago has an unassuming storefront, but you’d never guess they sell tens of thousands (yes, tens of thousands) of pączki on Fat Tuesday, also known as Pączki Day. If you didn’t make it to Bridgeport Bakery this week, don’t fret. They sell four different varieties of pączki all year round.

tis the season (krewe)

Krewe season has almost arrived and you might be wondering (if you’re not from the South), qu’est ce que Krewe? It’s a private social club of members who sponsor a parade and festivities as part of Mardi Gras. Krewes and Mardi Gras are a pretty big deal in Louisiana, our westerly neighbor.

Krewe Mardi Gras New Orleans Louisiana

Source: Miguel Discart via Flickr

Krewes have their own distinct histories and themes. There are well-known Krewes (think Krewe de Bacchus) but also less familiar ones who know how to throw a great party. In the case of the Merry Antoinettes, a subkrewe of Krewedelusion, these ladies–garbed in 18th century costume–like to throw cake. (Sounds a bit messy but love this.)

If you’re planning a visit to New Orleans to revel in all things Mardi Gras, you can learn about these different clubs here.