NEW YORK - Carnival celebrations may be scaled back this year but as long as you have an appetite, you can still celebrate some of New York City's tastiest Mardi Gras traditions.
In Greenpoint, Brooklyn, which is home to New York's largest Polish population, that tradition comes in dessert form: paczki, which are similar to doughnuts.
"It's heavier than a traditional doughnut and it's filled with different fillings like raspberry jams with seeds, chocolate with custard, chocolate with powder on it, or rose jam," Peter Pan Bakery co-owner Donna Siafakas said.
She and her husband Christos have owned Peter Pan Bakery for nearly 30 years. Every February, they make paczki from scratch from their own special recipe.
You can only get your hands on the doughnuts two days a year: Fat Thursday, which is celebrated in Poland, and Fat Tuesday, when Catholics indulge in all the sweet and fattening foods they want before fasting for Lent.
However, the delicious desserts can be enjoyed by people of all faiths.
"When I was little, my mother always made chrusciki— that's dough fried in oil," bakery worker Anna Dudek said. "And she also made paczki but the small ones."
Siafakas said last Thursday's pastries sold out within hours so she had her workers bake an extra batch. After all, Polish tradition is said to bestow a year's worth of good luck for those who eat as many paczki as possible!
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