Chicago, IL

Chicago, IL, bakeries offer Polish donuts and Sarah visits her grandma in Warsaw

Karen Madej

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Chicago, IL, offers an enormous selection of Polish paczki bakeries. Several of them opened in the earlier part of the 20th century when Polish immigrants arrived in the city. I love the original as pictured above but many of the bakeries have their own twist on the rosehip jelly filled paczki.

It's not Fat Tuesday every day but a fabulous Polish donut treat will cheer anyone up!

Kolatek's Bakery, 2445 N. Harlem Ave, Chicago, IL, has a vast selection of different fillings and savoury dishes such as Hunter's Stew aka bigos and Red Borsch. Yum.

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Sarah's trip to Warsaw

One year the entire family went to Poland to visit her stepmom’s relatives in Warsaw and a seaside holiday. Her niece Nastusia joined them, a year older than Sarah, and she could speak English.

They stayed in Teresa’s mom’s tiny flat. Their step-grandma treated the girls to her homemade specialities. Sarah recalls her little sister, Shaz, drinking a glass of fruit compote and taking a bite out of the glass.

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Of the rest of the visit to her step-relatives, she remembers uncle Andrej and aunt Alka. Their rambunctious boxer, Atos, a friendly slobbery dog, liked the eight-year-old.

Sarah fell for pączki, a fat Polish doughnut. Like a British glazed ring doughnut, but twice the size and filled with rosehip jam. Candied peel placed on top. Also pierogi, a flat half-moon pastry dumpling. Her favourite had a mushroom filling and fried lardons sprinkled all over.

From Warsaw to the Baltic Coast

The family, plus Nastusia, left the capital city and drove 500 km to Hel Peninsula on the Baltic Coast.

Dad parked the car near the edge of a forest and carried the beach gear to a tranquil white sand beach. When Nastusia, Sarah, and Shaz waded in the shallow, calm ocean, they could still see their feet.

Mummy had bought the older girls the same style of bikinis, Nastusia had an orange and blue one, and Sarah a red and blue. Sarah was eight and skinny as a stick, with long blonde hair further bleached by the sun. Nastusia had lighter blond hair and a bigger head than Sarah. The girls ran up and down the beach, splashing in the waves while Shaz played in the sand.

After lunch, the family packed up and went for a walk through the forest, out of the sight of the sun. It smelt of Christmas trees. The thick carpets of pine needles pricked Sarah’s feet through her flip-flops.

The family gaggle emerged from the other side of the forest. They found themselves on another beach. This one had angry crashing waves made heavy and opaque from dragging up the bed of the ocean.

Sarah watched the wind whipping up streams of sand grains and putting them down again when it ran out of puff. Nastusia’s and her hair flew all over the place. Mummy tied their bikini tops as headscarves to stop tendrils whipping their eyeballs.

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Back in Bournemouth

Towards the end of their two weeks of camping, the heatwave was only existent in the air. But miles of slate grey cumulonimbus clouds threatened rain and obscured the sun.

Daddy took Shaz and Sarah to the swimming pool in Christchurch in the afternoon. He hoped Shaz would stop trying to Sarah’s hair out.

Shaz splashed around in the pool with her dad, and Sarah did a couple of lengths before taking a rest. After an hour Shaz was shivering, so they climbed out of the pool.

They showered, shampooed, rinsed, and dried. Sarah finished getting Shaz and herself dressed. Then they joined Dad in the reception area. His glazed eyes belied that he’d read everything on all the notice boards. He was now staring out the windows, hoping to find something interesting. Sarah followed his gaze.

It was dark outside. The car park ankle deep in water and lightning streaked the sky. Dad gathered up their bags and Shaz. He took Sarah’s hand, and they dashed out to the car. Their clothes soaked to the skin, they sighed with relief when they got inside it.

When they reached their tent, Dad parked the car and told Sarah to stay in her seat. She jolted as she heard a crack of thunder that sounded like a barrage of fireworks. Through the windscreen, she saw a flash of lighting, as bright as a full moon, which lit up the scene outside the tent.

Pitched at the bottom of a gentle incline, the tent had a fast-flowing stream gushing into it. Mummy, bent double, sloshed water away from the door of the tent. The water was above her ankles. She straightened as Daddy’s feet appeared in her line of sight and they went into the tent together …

Celebrating another Polish bakery and deli

Chicago Eater has all the Polish food bakeries and delis for the Chicago, IL area. If you prefer all-natural ingredients and low sugar content, try out Delightful Pastries, 5927 West Lawrence Avenue, Chicago, IL. Established in 1998, Dobra Bielinski and Stasia Hawryszczuk opened their first bakery and a second one at the Chicago French Market in 2009.

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Passionate about climate change and living a debt-free, sustainable life. Determined to learn how to and build an adobe house or Earthship. The goal is to live off-grid and off the land. Energy for heat and to power electrical devices and appliances will use solar, wind, and hydro-powered electricity. No trees will die to make my home.

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