Just imagine, an entire holiday based on Homer Simpson’s favorite meal – but no, you’re dreaming, in Poland such a thing really exists. Falling TODAY, Tłusty Czwartek is a day on which the humble donut becomes the source of a nation’s fiendish obsession.
But what’s it all about? Translated as ‘Fat Thursday’, the holiday has its roots in religion – marking the last Thursday before Lent, it’s a day on which God-fearing worshippers would traditionally feast on goodies otherwise shunned during this otherwise solemn time. Over the years, that’s come to mean donuts and, to a lesser degree, angel wings as well.
Welcomed also by Poland’s growing band of non-believers, the day sees over 100 million donuts consumed across the country, and you can expect immense queues to build outside bakeries and sweet stores. Arousing strong passions, it’s not been entirely unknown to find lines devolving into fisticuffs whenever errant queue-jumpers are caught. But which donuts are worth fighting for? We can think of a few.
The New Wave
ul. Mokotowska 52
Kukułka’s desserts have lifted Warsaw in a heavenly direction – literally in the case of their Angel Wings. The donuts include both traditional and I-didn’t-expect-that fillings (passion fruit!), and don’t dare leave without their signature cream puffs.
Though their origins date to 1946, the individualized, uber-cool interiors and modern desserts make Lukullus a shoe-in for our New Wave shortlist. Using rose jam as their filling, the donuts are a nod to the roots of this well-respected operation.
Reminiscent of Italian bombolini, these doughy spheres of pleasure come oozing with milk chocolate, vanilla cream, salty caramel and a few other tastes we can’t remember – you might not either, as this place has a habit of knocking you sideways with its tasty little treasures.
Oleandrów 8 & Paryska 27
Award-winning NYC-style donuts that transpire to be things of craft, adventure and irresistible taste. All the better for ignoring chemical nasties and mass-market shortcuts, the playful nature of MOD’s non-standard offerings is expressed via all-natural, boldly-colored toppings such as matcha, mango, black forest gateau, salted caramel or hibiscus. We LOVE it!
… And The Absolutely Crazy
The donut is not a holy object, and as such a few places have gone utterly wild in their reinterpretation of what it’s all about. Take The Cool Cat, for example: they’re serving a donut burger with pulled beef, homemade kimchi, crispy bacon and cheese sauce (vegan version also available).
And then there’s the lads at Kura who are using the day to sell their own chicken and donut burger in their locations around town…
The Old Guard
Revered by traditionalists, the queue on Tłusty Czwartek snakes as far as the eye can see. Be patient to see why.
Existing since 1937, this cult venue chooses to decorate its donuts with orange peel and pipe them full of plum jam. The results transcend description. Visit!
Something of a hybrid, Smaki Warszawy tread a fine line between tradition and modernity. Though there’s much contemporary about their cakes, the donuts are of the old school variety.
Born in Szczecin in 1989, Stara Pączkarnia has since blossomed into a nationwide chain. Served through a hatch, find their Warsaw sales point dealing an array of tastes that include rebel fillings such as pineapple, Advocaat or Bounty.
Though less than ten years old, the aesthetic conjures images of Warsaw’s upmarket, inter-war confectionaries. The traditionally angled desserts – donuts included – are unimpeachable.
Suppliers to none other than Marshal Józef Piłsudski! Founded in 1925, and side-stepping modern innovation and artificial nasties, it’s by far the most famous pączek in Poland – no kidding, queues stretch around the block!