By Charles Sercombe
It was that time again, a time where Hamtramck always shines.
Fat Tuesday. Known elsewhere by the French “Mardi Gras,” but locally as Paczki Day.
Alas, this year’s Paczki Day festivities had one uninvited guest: a bitter cold gusty wind that could, for example, freeze your forehead while walking northward on Jos. Campau.
After a couple weeks of unseasonably warmish weather, it was a rude reminder that winter is not done with us yet.
But for those … ah … fortified with spirits, it probably didn’t faze them all that much.
A familiar group of gawkers crushed into PLAV Post 10 for the annual paczki eating contest, held on the second floor of this classic old hall.
There, at high noon, several contestants arranged themselves at a long table and punished their bodies by stuffing down as many of those lard-infused pastry bombs as a human stomach can, well if a human had the multiple stomachs of a cow.
As it would happen, the winner turned out to be that guy-about-town, the one-and-only STEVE-O (Steve Paljusevic).
Yes, Steve-O, Hamtramck’s top pop culture observer, scarfed down 12-1/2 paczki. It was, truly, a baffling sight, since last year he could only manage to get a few of them down.
Even more amazing, he hardly looked punished by his pastry onslaught.
It’s said that D-Day, in World War II, was the longest 24 hours of that war. This is certainly a stretched simile, but what the heck: The paczki eating contest is the longest-known 15 minutes in the history of humankind.
Congrats, Steve, but you also have a long way to go to beat the 23 paczki that were downed in 2015.
Move on? Please, let’s.
The line of people waiting to get inside of New Palace Bakery once again stretched around the block – made worse by the closing, last year, of New Martha Washington Bakery, formerly located just a bit further north on Jos. Campau.
But those coming out – which, strangely, were few and far between (is there a Paczki Twilight Zone where people go in a bakery, never to be seen again?) did say that the bakery had streamlined things to move the line along faster.
Now, instead of mixing and matching, customers can only take pre-sorted boxes.
“That only took one hour,” said a customer, to this freezing reporter.
Another thing this reporter heard, while outside New Palace, from a fellow in line with friends: “Hey, are you that guy?”
Reporter: “Sure, yeah, I’m that guy. … Unless you think I’m ‘That Guy’ in which case, no, I’m not that guy.”
At that point, it was better to head over to Whiskey in the Jar, around the corner from the bustling bakery.
A shot of Jezy (to warm up) sure was tempting, but there was still work to be done.
And, besides, Jezy reminds us of that horrible cough syrup we were forced to swallow as a kid.
As usual, a giant tent was set up behind the bar. Inside, the crowd was still in the early stages of imbibing their various libations — not yet loose enough to forget their inhibitions and dance like fools to the Kielbasa Kings.
Despite the unwelcome chill in the air, there were plenty of people walking the city streets – notably, a bunch of young adults heading toward Small’s bar at Caniff and Conant.
Well, that’s it for the paczki report for this year. Our deadline was calling, and a warm cup of coffee sure sounded right.
When it comes to good food and great times, Hamtramck has plenty to offer. In this column, we’ll talk about what’s happening at our bars, restaurants and other events throughout the city.
Posted Feb. 24, 2023