WBEZ | lent http://www.wbez.org/tags/lent Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Fish fry dinners bring food, community to Catholics during Lent http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/fish-fry-dinners-bring-food-community-catholics-during-lent-110029 <p><p>Roman Catholics are not supposed to eat meat on Fridays during Lent. They view it as a small act of penance to honor Christ&rsquo;s death.</p><p>So churches across Chicago and the nation are carrying on a time-honored way to skip the meat, and gather as a community. It&rsquo;s the Friday fish fry, and it is growing in popularity here again.</p><p>One of the biggest and longest-running fish fries in Chicago -- and, volunteers claim, the only one here with a drive-through -- is at St. Ferdinand Church on the far Northwest Side.</p><p>Father Jason Torba stood in the church basement last Friday evening among a circle of volunteers. Many wore bunny ears and orange name tags shaped like fish.</p><p>&ldquo;We ask God for his blessing tonight and especially for the people, they will come and will serve,&rdquo; Torba said, adding it is even more important to serve during Lent. Then he led the group in an &ldquo;Our Father.&rdquo;</p><p>The volunteers were about to serve nearly 600 fish dinners ... in three hours. And the crowd started lining up 45 minutes early.</p><p>St. Ferdinand&rsquo;s fish fry has been going on for something like 25 years now. Organizers said other churches are coming to them now, asking how to start fish fries of their own.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/fish%20fry%201.JPG" title="Signs point the way to St. Ferdinand’s fish fry. (WBEZ/Lynette Kalsnes)" />Professor Michael Murphy, director of Catholic Studies at Loyola University Chicago, said church dinners like this were popular in the middle of the last century. Then, the tight parish structure made the local church a central part of life, resulting in women&rsquo;s and men&rsquo;s clubs, and many other events.</p><p>&ldquo;The parish was for so many years the place to be,&rdquo; he said, adding parishes served as a social outlet.</p><p>Murphy said fish fries merged theological teachings and practicality. If Catholics could not eat meat on Fridays, they might as well have fish and get together. He said that need to gather is central to the philosophy of the faith.</p><p>Murphy said these church dinners waned in popularity in greater Chicago after &ldquo;older parish things broke down&rdquo; following Vatican II, combined with the loosening of social structures in the U.S. in the 1960s and 1970s.</p><p>But he sees them coming back in style over the past few decades. Murphy said some of his students want to start at fish fry at Loyola. He credited this partly to the &ldquo;Pope Francis effect,&rdquo; which has Catholics longing for community again.</p><p>&ldquo;This is not just to come to eat fish, but it is to build community,&rdquo;&nbsp; said Rich Wenzl, who has helped run the St. Ferdinand event with his wife Pat for 19 years. Their main goal is not to raise money. They hope to attract people from the parish and the larger neighborhood.</p><p>&ldquo;Our world is very hungry for getting out of our houses and having a place to go that&rsquo;s correct, and that&rsquo;s safe, that feels good to be with each other and that we can share ourselves with one another,&rdquo; Rich Wenzl said.</p><p>Pat Wenzl, who is the lead organizer of the fish fry, said it is especially important to recruit young people to volunteer to keep them in the parish and in the faith.</p><p>&ldquo;If we groom them well and make them feel comfortable and make them feel like it&rsquo;s an important part of them, it only serves to help the church in years to come,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>The couple created the process for running the event, and it is pretty much an assembly line. Friday, four men stood over designated fryers. Four women lined up next to each other to dish out fish, coleslaw, dinner rolls and condiments.</p><p>Teens stood right outside the kitchen, ready to run out orders to two packed dining halls. The operation is so big now, it takes more than 100 volunteers a night.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/fish%20fry%202.jpg.JPG" style="float: left; height: 358px; width: 275px;" title="Volunteers run the fish fry like a factory line to make and serve about 600 meals in three hours. (WBEZ/Lynette Kalsnes)" />Mary Clemente, who headed the line of women, did not slow down for even a minute ... not until her 4-year-old grandson popped by.</div><p>&ldquo;Give me a kiss, hey, love you,&rdquo; Clemente told her grandson.</p><p>&ldquo;Grandma, why is people wearing Easter bunny ears?&rdquo; he asked.</p><p>&ldquo;For Easter,&rdquo; she said with a laugh.</p><p>Then she went right back to work. Clemente has been volunteering so long, &ldquo;My son was 3, he&rsquo;s now 21, so that&rsquo;s how long, 18 years.&rdquo;</p><p>Another woman chimed in: &ldquo;Last year was her birthday, we made her kitchen queen.&rdquo;</p><p>Many of the volunteers have stories like this. Volunteering eight, 10, even 20 years is common. Even though it is hard work, Clemente said it is fun, and volunteers become like family.</p><p>That sense of community was visible among diners, too. Anne Marie Castiglioni came with her children and her mom. She does not attend St. Ferdinand&rsquo;s, but lives nearby. She said her son could not wait to see the Easter Bunny, who appears here the last fish fry of the season.</p><p>&ldquo;(He) had the biggest smile on his face to see this guy because he&rsquo;s known him since he&rsquo;s been like 3 years old, he&rsquo;s kind of grown up knowing this Easter Bunny here,&rdquo; Castiglioni said.</p><p>Her mom, Pat Zwick, said coming here has become a family tradition.</p><p>&ldquo;And the Easter Bunny brings you more into the Easter spirit,&rdquo; she said, as her granddaughter, who was sitting in her lap, excitedly pointed out that the Easter Bunny was right across the room.</p><p>On the other side of the crowded hall, Vincent Clemente -- Mary&rsquo;s husband - ate fish dinners with their grandson. Clemente&rsquo;s been a parishioner since he was 1.</p><p>&ldquo;Some people now, they don&rsquo;t go to church as often,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Some people that live in the neighborhood don&rsquo;t attend church, but this enhances the parish community because then they see how much of a community it is, and it may bring them to the church.&rdquo;</p><p>St. Ferdinand&rsquo;s last fish fry of the season was Friday night. They cannot hold one this weekend, since Catholics are required to fast on Good Friday, depending on their age.<br />But parishioners at St. Ferdinand plan to keep building community through food. They&rsquo;ll be back with the fish fry next year.</p><p>And up next? A pancake breakfast.</p><p><em>Lynette Kalsnes is a WBEZ producer/reporter covering religion and culture. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/LynetteKalsnes" target="_blank">@LynetteKalsnes</a>.</em><br />&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 16:58:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/fish-fry-dinners-bring-food-community-catholics-during-lent-110029 Packing in the paczkis http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/packing-paczkis-109792 <p><p>Happy Paczki Day, Chicago!</p><p>This occasion marks a time of feasting before the Lenten fast &mdash; specifically on the jelly doughnuts&nbsp; known as paczki that are a tradition in Poland. But unlike cultures that celebrate Fat Tuesday, aka Mardi Gras, paczki have their heyday on two distinct days in Chicago&rsquo;s Polish community.</p><blockquote><p><strong>Photos: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/louisachu/sets/72157641622072985/" target="_blank">Paczki Day in Chicago</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>&ldquo;By being of Polish extraction and living in Chicago, you get the best of both worlds,&rdquo; explained Jan Lorys, managing director of the Polish Museum of America, which is located in the West Town neighborhood on Milwaukee Ave., the longtime &ldquo;Main Street&rdquo; of Polish Chicago.</p><p>Lorys continued, &ldquo;In Poland, the tradition is that you are getting ready for Lent, which is a period of fasting. So you get rid of all of your animal fats...and make paczki, which are deep fried in fat.&rdquo;</p><p>That happens on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday -- both in Poland and in Chicago&rsquo;s bakery-filled Polish-American neighborhoods.</p><p>&ldquo;But when you come to the United States, the big thing is Mardi Gras, the Shrove Tuesday before Ash Wednesday,&rdquo; Lorys said. &ldquo;So the idea came for having Paczki Day on Shrove Tuesday, combining an existing American holiday with something from Poland.&rdquo;</p><p>That is how most U.S. Polish communities do it, but in Chicago we respectfully observe both traditions, meaning, Lorys said, &ldquo;that you have them on Thursday, and then starve yourself over the weekend and then have them on Tuesday again.&rdquo;</p><p>So now that you understand the double-doughnut-day directive, we should say a word about the spelling and pronunciation of this deep-fried treat.</p><p>Paczek (POANCH-ek) is the word for a single doughnut. But, as Lorys said, &ldquo;You never [just] eat one.&rdquo; So the really important word to learn is the the plural paczki (POANCH--kee) -- as in, &ldquo;I can&rsquo;t believe I just ate 17 paczki.&rdquo;</p><p>To make matters more confusing, the word paczki, meaning filled doughnut, looks exactly like the word paczki, meaning package. So if you have ever passed one of Chicago&rsquo;s many Polish shipping services and wondered if the sign saying &ldquo;Paczki do Polski&rdquo; means they specialize in mailing doughnuts to Poland, the answer is &ldquo;no.&rdquo;<br />&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/paczki%20powder.jpg" style="float: right; height: 197px; width: 350px;" title="" />You may also be wondering if paczki are really that much different from other jelly doughnuts, Bismarcks, Berliners, bombolini, Boston cremes, or sufganiyot. From the looks of them you might think they&rsquo;re all the same. But Dobra Bielinski of Delightful Pastries explains that they are a denser, eggier affair.</div><p><br />&ldquo;People really eat jelly-filled doughnuts for the filling, not the doughnut itself,&rdquo; the baker said. &ldquo;And with a paczki, what happens is that people eat it for the dough and not the filling. Relatively, there is less filling and and more dough. Once this cools off, when you bite it, it springs back, it doesn&rsquo;t collapse like pancake.&rdquo;</p><p>On Wednesday morning, Bielinski presided over a bustling kitchen that would crank out more than 20,000 paczki over the next week, including 10,000 pre-ordered doughnuts and several thousand for the City of Chicago&rsquo;s birthday celebration in Daley Plaza Tuesday.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;And those are just the orders we know about. We still have to make them for orders [by] people who are coming into the store,&rdquo; Bielinski said.</p><p>Giant bowls of butter, flour, rum, eggs, yeast, and sugar were spinning under the mixer. Workers rolled finished mounds of dough into lime-sized balls for proofing. Once risen, whole trays of paczki buns would be gently lowered into vats of oil. Traditionally, that oil would have been lard, but today Bielinski uses a blend of canola and soy to reflect changing customer demands .</p><p>&ldquo;If I had to do it at home, I would do it in lard,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>&ldquo;Me too,&rdquo; piped in Stasia Hawryszczuk, her mom, &ldquo;because it tastes much better.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;If you were living in a small town in Poland,&rdquo; Bielinski said, &ldquo;everyone would have their own pig in the backyard and the pig was fed scraps, and the lard was fairly healthy because they didn&rsquo;t add anything to it. You would melt it down and you&rsquo;d have all this fat to fry in. &ldquo;</p><p>Midway through frying, the bobbing buns were expertly flipped using what look like two mahogany chopsticks.</p><p>And when the hot walnut-colored pastries emerged from the fryer, they bore nary a drop of grease -- thanks, Bielinski said, to the rum in the dough that prevents excessive absorption of oil.</p><p>Next up, is the sugar glaze, which was traditionally studded with candied orange peels, a delicacy in Poland during this time of year when fresh fruit was scarce.</p><p>When I was a young kid in Poland you would get oranges under the Christmas tree,&rdquo; Bielinski said.&nbsp; &ldquo;There was a lot of rationing of food. So if you would spend your money on oranges, you would use up entire orange and you&rsquo;d put the bits of candied orange peel on top of your pazckis and make a luxury item, so to speak.&rdquo;</p><p>And lastly comes the injection of filling. Traditional fillings including prune and rose petal jam, but in recent years Bielinski has gotten more creative.</p><p>&ldquo;We we do vanilla bean custard and vodka, Jameson&rsquo;s whiskey and chocolate custard, and then we did moonshine with lemon curd,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;So those were the adult ones.&rdquo;</p><p>Bielinski is especially proud of the tart and tropical passion fruit, which she makes from real fruit puree.</p><p>If you ask a dozen paczki lovers about their favorite flavors, you could easily get a dozen different answers back.&nbsp;</p><p>Responses we got included rose hip jelly, cherry, strawberry, apricot, prune, custard, chocolate, raspberry.</p><p>But regardless of which flavor you choose,&nbsp; we can all agree that these round poofs of sweetness can offer some much needed comfort during this long punishing winter.</p><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the&nbsp;</em><em><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/content/chewing-fat-podcast-louisa-chu-and-monica-eng">Chewing the Fat</a></strong></em><em>&nbsp;podcast. Follow her at&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng">@monicaeng</a> or write to her at&nbsp;</em><em><a href="mailto:meng@wbez.org">meng@wbez.org</a></em></p></p> Thu, 27 Feb 2014 12:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/packing-paczkis-109792 The many epiphanies I didn't have from giving up drinking for Lent http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-04/many-epiphanies-i-didnt-have-giving-drinking-lent-106404 <p><p>In February <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-02/what-are-you-giving-lent-105499">I made the bold proclamation</a> that I&#39;d give up drinking for Lent. I&#39;m proud to say that aside from a few shots of Nyquil from when I wasn&#39;t feeling well, I made it through the entire season. I was fairly certain I&#39;d learn a few things about my relationship with alcohol and my own body during this time and I did. In that I didn&#39;t.</p><p>1. Giving up drinking was easier than I expected. Just saying &quot;I gave up drinking for Lent&quot; out loud helped establish what I was doing and nobody questioned it in social settings. I confirmed that I can go out with friends and have a good time drinking Diet Coke and not wine. It was a lot cheaper, too.<br /><br />2. But it also never got any easier over the long haul. I figured the longer I went without liquor the less I would miss it, but that was not the case. On Friday nights, especially, at the end of a long week, I badly missed unwinding with my husband in the kitchen over some wine. Even in the last days of Lent I had to give myself pep talks, saying what a shame it would be to come that far just to blow it.<br /><br /><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/4508416577_56d47321bf.jpg" style="float: left; height: 205px; width: 300px;" title="Don't try to take this girl's drink away. (Courtesy of the author)" />3. It did not make me feel substantially better. This was a big surprise. I figured that without liquor I would hop out of bed in the morning fresh as a daisy, and enjoy a carefree workout unburdened by the slightest tinge of toxins in my system. I figured I&#39;d look and feel as glowy and fit as, say, J.Lo, or another one of those celebs who is saintly and abstains. No go. Getting up in the morning, working out and dragging your body around in general is no easier when you&#39;re a teetotaler.<br /><br />4. Going dry is a terrible diet. I also gave up weighing myself for Lent and figured that by cutting out booze I&#39;d lose at least give pounds. Um, no. I lost zero pounds. In fact, I may have gained a few. Part of this, I admit, was due in part to abstinence-induced eating, the mentality that I could eat more because I was pregnant (I mean abstinent). But, strangely, it felt kind of the same.</p><p>5. My tolerance went down. (I was buzzed off my first Easter mimosa at 9 a.m., which I had before I went to my workout class.) But not <em>too </em>down. I had a few more mimosas during the day, just to keep me going, and while I didn&#39;t feel great in the car on the way to brunch, we were also stuck in traffic on Peterson, which would make anyone nauseous. I powered through the day though thanks to some more mimosas.</p><p>I&#39;m a little disappointed that giving up alcohol didn&#39;t make that much of an impact on my life, but I suppose the upside is that I learned that I don&#39;t typically drink enough that it <em>would </em>make a big difference in my life when alcohol is gone. Which is good, because, rather stupidly, I envisioned a reality where my physical state would be <em>so </em>improved by giving up liquor that I&#39;d have to contemplate giving it up for good. So thank god that didn&#39;t happen. Now I&#39;m back on the scale and on the sauce. Cheers.</p><p><em>What did you give up for Lent, and how well did you stick to that? Tell me in the comments or <a href="https://twitter.com/Zulkey">@Zulkey</a></em></p></p> Mon, 01 Apr 2013 09:10:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-04/many-epiphanies-i-didnt-have-giving-drinking-lent-106404 What are you giving up for Lent? http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-02/what-are-you-giving-lent-105499 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/511389398_556c659ff3.jpg" style="float: right; height: 304px; width: 300px;" title="Flickr/exfordy" /><span id="internal-source-marker_0.26830687760580285">I didn&rsquo;t mean for this to be Catholicism week on my blog but it&rsquo;s going that way. I don&rsquo;t have an interview with a saint lined up for Friday or anything though, don&rsquo;t worry.</span></div><p><br />A few days ago my friend Erica asked me what I was giving up for Lent. <em>Ugh</em>. It&rsquo;s Lent again?<br /><br />My first instinct was to say &quot;Nintendo,&quot; which has been my joke answer since about 7th grade once I had passed the point of actually wanting to play Nintendo (unlike my brother, for whom giving up Nintendo would actually have been a sacrifice.) This is an example of your traditional sarcastic Catholic answer, which often takes the form of &quot;Catholicism&quot; when questioned &quot;What are you giving up for Lent?&quot; (This year the popular sarcastic answer is &quot;The Pope.&quot;)<br /><br />But Lent is a complicated time for Catholics who have one foot in and one foot out of the faith. Why do we get ashes, give things up, stop eating meat on Fridays? Many of us don&#39;t exactly remember but we do it anyway because it&#39;s ingrained, because it&#39;s strangely fun (&quot;What are you giving up for Lent?&quot; is a good conversation starter) and we have those old feelings of obligation.<br /><br />My first thought was &quot;Booze&quot; and then I felt like Dan Aykroyd did in <em>Ghostbusters</em> when the Stay-Puft Marshmallow man popped into his head. &quot;No wait! Sugar. Cheese. Facebook. Aargh!&quot; The second I thought it, I knew that&#39;s what I needed to give up based on the fact that I really, really didn&#39;t want to.<br /><br />After I had the baby, alcohol took on a new role in my life. I mean, I always enjoyed it. But a glass of wine at the end of the day after having a kid just takes on a different feeling and meaning than it did before, partially because to go out to a bar and get one is an expensive, inconvenient luxury that comes along a lot less often. Pre-baby, I rarely used to drink at home, except when people came over, but now people come over all the time, to see the baby, plus we&rsquo;re home all the time. Holding the baby in one hand while balancing a glass in another is something I&#39;m getting pretty good at. So maybe it&rsquo;s worth just working on cutting back.<br /><br />I&#39;m also trying to lose those last ten baby pounds. Nobody cares if I lose this weight but me. I can fit into my clothes. I look more or less the same as I did before I had the baby. But I know I&#39;d like to lose them and I&#39;m pretty sure that cutting out the booze for a while will help, not to mention that I signed up for the Soldier Field 10 Mile race in a few months and I know it&#39;d be a lot easier to run it without a ten pound barbell hanging from my neck. (I also decided to quit weighing this Lent, too, in a slightly more positive pledge.)<br /><br />I looked at my calendar to see if I had many events coming up that would be utterly worthless without me drinking and sure enough there are some that will be tough: Valentine&rsquo;s Day. <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-12/rosie-schaap-interview-104518">Rosie Schaap</a>&#39;s alcohol-themed <a href="http://www.bookcellarinc.com/event/drinking-men-rosie-schaap">reading this Friday</a>. <a href="http://www.zulkey.com/funnyhaha.php">Funny Ha-Ha</a> next Friday. Various get-togethers with friends. What was I thinking?<br /><br />It&#39;s not that big a sacrifice, I know, but it&#39;s a challenge I knew I should take on by how much I didn&#39;t want to. &quot;You just had a baby!&quot; some friends offered to me as an excuse. &quot;You didn&#39;t drink for nine whole months!&quot; Well, that&#39;s not totally true and that argument doesn&#39;t really fly: this would be something I do for myself (and I guess maybe God? But I&#39;m not going to get into that). I also don&#39;t buy into that whole exceptions thing: cheating is cheating, even if it&#39;s on Sundays. If my first thought was &quot;You should go without drinking for a month and some change,&quot; it&#39;s probably worth trying.<br /><br />So here we go. If I&#39;m out and I&#39;m at a bar, take a look at my hand and if I&#39;m drinking something that looks suspiciously fun, feel free to say &quot;But you published a blog about this&quot; and shame me to death. Let&#39;s do this. Come Easter Sunday, it&rsquo;ll be all about the mimosas at brunch, hold the O.J.<br /><br />What are you giving up for Lent? (And if you&rsquo;ve got a sarcastic answer, it had better be a really hilarious, original one, and &ldquo;Giving up reading your blog&rdquo; does not count.)</p></p> Wed, 13 Feb 2013 09:41:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-02/what-are-you-giving-lent-105499