On February 24, the Chicago Tribune profiled a member of the extended GWC Injury Lawyers family and her famous Lenten treat, the paczki.
Helena Kopinski is the mother of GWC paralegal Irene Jordan and co-owner of Camelot Banquets in Hickory Hills. She has been making paczki, a traditional Polish pastry, since before she left Zakopane, Poland over forty years ago. And on the Thursday before the start of Lent, she and her family were making eight thousand of them.
A Lenten Tradition
Lent, which begins this Ash Wednesday on March 1, is a forty-day period of fasting Roman Catholics observe before Easter. American Catholics typically associate paczki with Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. However, in Poland, they actually celebrate Paczki Day the previous Thursday – hence, all the activity at Camelot Banquets.
“We’ve been here since yesterday morning,” Joanna Naughton, Helena’s daughter and the business’s co-owner, told the Tribune.
The sweet pastries resemble jelly doughnuts but are distinct from them in many ways. The filling has a consistency more like a thick jam than an American-style jelly. The most popular filling in Poland is “roza,” which is rose flavored. Camelot Banquets also offers raspberry, plum, and cherry flavors.
Instead of being injected into completed paczki, as in jelly doughnuts, the jam is wrapped inside the dough. The pastry is then formed into a ball, baked in an oven, fried in lard, and glazed with powdered sugar.
The paczki sell for $1.50 each.
Joanna recommended eating the paczki warm. “It’s better than Krispy Kreme,” she said.
While eating paczki before Lent has no specific religious significance, it is a very common tradition among Polish Catholic families.
“Everyone at GWC looks forward to Ash Wednesday and my mom’s paczki,” Irene added.
Camelot Banquets, located at 8624 W. 95th St., has been family owned and operated since 1996. It caters to groups of all sizes, from parties as small as 30 people to banquets serving up to 700 guests. For more information, please contact them at (708) 598-6680.