A day of paczki and sazerac in Milwaukee? Come again? "Fat Tuesday" tradition runs deep all over the world, and Milwaukee is no exception.
Locally, tomorrow’s "Fat Tuesday" takes on several historic meanings with traditional Polish indulgence in the anticipation of the Lenten season and the ritual mixing of America’s first cocktail in Cajun and Creole Mardi Gras celebration. However you opt to indulge, there’s a universal understanding that the day is all about one thing: gluttony and extravagance.
Paczki, a fruit filled donut sprinkled with powder sugar, was originally baked in Polish kitchens to use up all the sugar, butter and lard before the Lenten season of sacrifice and fasting began. Since then, its delicious sweetness appealed to American, European and South American "Fat Tuesday" celebrations.
Likewise, the sazerac, attributed to be America’s very first cocktail, is a combination of cognac, rye whiskey, absinthe and bitters. Overshadowed by the popularly served Hurricane, the sazerac fell out of the drinker’s limelight when absinthe was banned in the early 1900s. Well, absinthe is back on bar shelves, bringing the sazerac back to life with it. Fearful of a minor dose of absinthe? Request a variation made with Herbsaint or other another anise flavored liquor.
Check your ancestry and prepare to celebrate in tradition. Take a look at the list below for a few suggestions on where you can spend your "Fat Tuesday" holiday.
Alzheimer’s Association, Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter
Milwaukee County Zoo, Peck Center
10001 W. Bluemound Rd.
To benefit the Alzheimer’s Association and celebrate "Fat Tuesday," head to the annual "Mardi Gras Annual Dinner and Auction." Held at the Milwaukee County Zoo, there will be several Alzheimer’s "Champions" in attendance, including Thelma Sias, Mark McGinnis, Linda Jackson Cocroft and Frank Gimbel. Enjoy a Cajun-inspired meal, silent and live auctions plus plenty of live entertainment.
6414 W. Greenfield Ave., (414) 778-2228
In the New Orleans spirit of constant celebration, Crawdaddy’s throws a "Fat Tuesday" party each and every week. But this week, you’ll be celebrating simultaneously with those in the Big Easy. All the classics make the menu—Jambalaya, gumbo, catfish and corn bread—spiced with traditional southern seasonings and served up all evening long.
Maxie’s Southern Comfort
6732 W. Fairview Ave., (414) 292-3969
It might be tough to get a table, but"Fat Tuesday" at Maxie’s is packed with good reason. Plating perhaps the best Cajun and creole food in the city, Maxie’s does due service to New Orleans with a special menu, deals on Hurricanes, beads and masks. To top it off, John Seiger and his Mardi Gras band play at 2 p.m. followed by the Uptown Savages at 6 p.m.
13820 W. Greenfield Ave., (262) 827-4097
3200 S. 16th St., (414) 672-1620
5637 Broad St., (414) 423-4260
Last year, National Bakery made 30,000 paczki in anticipation of "Fat Tuesday." And they sold out. Get there early and get in line to get your share of deep fried donuts filled with sweet fruit.
Polish Center of Wisconsin
6941 S. 68th St., (414) 529-2140
If you haven’t already ordered, you missed the deadline for ordering your twelve-pack of paczki. But thanks to the Polish Center of Wisconsin, you can still enjoy a paczki filled breakfast tomorrow morning. Stop by the center between 7 and 11:30 a.m. for a raspberry or prune paczek and cup of coffee for just $3.
Potawatomi Bingo Casino
1721 West Canal St., (414) 645-6888
Potawatomi Bingo Casino did it right this Mardi Gras. Bringing a host of legendary New Orleans musicians (Allen Toussaint, Buckwheat Zydeco) to the stage over the last week, the celebration ends tomorrow with a performance from The Neville Brothers and Dr. John and the Lower at 8 p.m. The casino is transformed with roving showgirls and Dixieland bands, a tarot card reader and a caricature artist. At the Fire Pit Sports Bar & Grill, specialty dishes include gumbo, catfish fingers, Cajun blackened chicken salad and chicken and sausage jambalaya. Dream Dance Steak will feature crawfish étouffee for this one day only.
OnMilwaukee.com staff writer Maureen Post grew up in Wauwatosa. A lover of international and urban culture, Maureen received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
After living on the east side of Madison for several years, Maureen returned to Milwaukee in 2006.
After a brief stint of travel, Maureen joined OnMilwaukee.com as the city’s oldest intern and has been hooked ever since. Combining her three key infatuations, Milwaukee’s great music, incredible food and inspiring art (and yes, in that order), Maureen’s job just about fits her perfectly.
Residing in Bay View, Maureen vehemently believes the city can become fresh and new with a simple move across town.