Paczki Shortage Looms in Dallas

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In cities with significant Polish populations, Shrove Tuesday is commonly known as Paczki Day in honor of the pastry made with all the lard, eggs and sugar that had to be used up before the traditional Lenten fast began. But Dallasites without deep-fryers may have trouble participating in the festivities this year.

"I can't promise," a staffer at For You, Taste of Poland, a Polish restaurant in Plano, says when asked whether paczkis will be available next week. "Maybe we will have them on Tuesday. We still don't know."

According to the staffer, the bakery's made paczkis in previous years, but few customers have bought them. For You typically ends up tossing the rich doughnut-like treats.

The Reverend Stanislaw Poszwa, pastor at St. Peter the Apostle Parish, was surprised to learn For You might not offer paczkis. He says he doesn't have any other paczki leads.

"Some ladies, they will make some for me, but I don't know what to do," he says. "I'm sorry."

Dallas' Polish community is admittedly minuscule.

"I never met one Polish person in Dallas," lamented a comment writer on Polishforums.com, on a thread entitled "Any Poles in Dallas?" "If they were Poles, they were born and raised in Texas and have lost much contact with their original roots."

Poszwa confirms "there's no new immigration" to Dallas, although people with Polish heritage "move in and out for work." There are 20,000 Dallas residents who can trace their ancestry to Poland, but only about 250 worshipers celebrate St. Peter the Apostle's Polish mass on Sunday.

"It's a small crowd," Poszwa says.

Bakeries with a reliable paczki business typically offer a range of fruit flavors. Much like kolaches, paczkis are now available in apple, lemon, strawberry and apricot varieties, in addition to the traditional prune. Inspired bakers have mixed fillings for special occasions, saluting Poland with strawberry and custard -- evoking the colors of the national flag -- and taking a patriotic stand with strawberry, custard and blueberry.

If For You sells paczkis, there will only be one variety available. The restaurant won't make its final ruling until Paczki Day.

"The best idea, to save you trip, call Tuesday morning, and then you know," the staffer says.

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