In many parts of the world, the month of February is often associated with carnival season, a time when people celebrate ahead of Lent, a time known for excess and extravagance. Rich, fatty foods reign, before they go into hiding during the somber period that precedes Easter Sunday.
The feasting season, historically known as Shrovetide, is given different names in different countries. The two most popular days of carnival season are Fat Thursday, which is the last Thursday before Lent, and Fat Tuesday, the day before the start of Lent, just shy of Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras, for example, is French for Fat Tuesday. In the U.K., the day is known as Shrove Tuesday, but it is also called Pancake Tuesday or Pancake Day. The Italians mark both Fat Thursday or Giovedí Grasso, as well as Fat Tuesday, Martedì Grasso. In other words, if you’re into double-feasting, certainly consider visiting Italy next February.
Or try Poland, where my ancestral heritage is anchored. There, we have Tłusty Czwartek (which means, you guessed it, Fat Thursday); it's also known as Doughnut Day, since we Poles love to eat pączki (doughnuts!). In addition to yolky-rich doughnuts filled with plum or rose jam, we make and devour these pretty little pastry twists called angel wings (faworki).
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Angel wings are perfect for using up the fat and other ingredients that are traditionally avoided during Lent (sugar and vodka, for example). They are relatively easy to make, although you need to build in a little time for resting the dough, kneading it, and then frying the angel wings in small batches. The dough is not terribly tricky to work with, and some cooks even take the opportunity of bashing the dough with a rolling pin, which is said to help remove the excess air.
Comparable to bigger, slightly softer, sweeter wonton strips, showered with powdered sugar, angel wings are also referred to as chruściki or chrusty. In addition to angel wings, the word faworki also refers to the colorful ribbons you'll spot on traditional blouses, and chruściki refers to the dried branches of trees. Pick your preferred name and give making these crunchy, addictive treats a whirl.
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