Paczki Day in Michiana at Macri's Italian Bakery

SOUTH BEND, Ind., --It’s Fat Tuesday in Michiana—which can only mean one thing: it is Paczki Day! “Poonch-key,” “ponch-key,” however you say it, Macri’s Italian Bakery and Trattoria in South Bend is dishing out the traditional Polish donuts for Mardi Gras.

I walked into the bakery and my nose instantly became filled with the warming aromas of chocolate and strawberries. This may be my first Paczki Day in Michiana, but the Macri family has fried, filled and powdered paczki in South Bend since 1978.

Last year, Macri’s sold around 25,000 paczki—this year, they are expecting to sell even more thanks to online ordering. New this year, paczki lovers had the ability to order ahead. According to Adriana Macri, there were already 500 preorders filled by 10 a.m.

“Our whole family and staff are all-hands-on deck. We’re doing everything we can to make sure our paczkis are as fresh as possible,” said Macri.

To meet the needs of the increased demand, the staff started frying dough at midnight the night before. To Adriana Macri, the lack of sleep is worth it to keep the tradition alive.

“Fat Tuesday has always been a very big day for the Macri family and staff. We’ve been open since 1978. The whole family and staff gets together to slice strawberries, fry Paczki’s, pack orders. It is definitely a tradition for our family and staff. We’re happy to do it, even if it means very little sleep,” said Macri.

Macri’s opened its doors early on Tuesday for the occasion and will stay open late. Paczki will be served throughout the week but will not return to Macri’s shelves until next winter.

The bakery has 12 different flavors of paczki to choose from: chocolate mousse, lemon, raspberry, apricot, vanilla custard, chocolate buttercream, cherry, cream cheese, blueberry, apple, prune and the most popular--fresh strawberry. After a taste test that exceeded my expectations, I decided that chocolate mousse is my favorite flavor; however, the strawberry cream paczki was the perfect combination of fluffy whipped cream and fresh strawberries all sandwiched between the warm, sweet and inviting paczki dough.

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