Soon it will be Lent. That means that between now and (especially on) Fat Tuesday, February 24, Americans all around the country are gearing up to chow down.

In Parma Heights, Ohio, where I grew up, the food of choice before the fasting of Lent was a Polish donut called a Paczki (pronounced puunch-keys). You can only get them this time of year and-if you are smart-you’ll go early to get these donuts filled with jelly or cream; they are sinfully good.

Speaking of sinful, so too are the beignets in New Orleans – a city known not only for its great jazz and food, but, um, other things in abundance. There is nothing like sitting in a corner café and eating these wonderful French confections. I’ve tried to make them as delicate and light as they do in the French Quarter – believe me – it’s easier to buy a plane ticket and go experience the real thing.

Baltimore residents prefer hot cross buns and people line up at bakeries waiting for them. They are only available during Lent.

Here in Lancaster County, the choice of the season is fasnachts (or Pudert Faasnachtkuche in Pennsylvania Dutch) – fried donuts that typically used up the lard before the fasting of Lent started. The locals love their fasnachts as much as people in other parts of the country love their specialties, and bakeries will be bursting with orders.

So, if you find yourself in the Lancaster County area in the next week, be sure to add it to your list of local foods to experience – because all too soon the fasnachts will be gone. Achenbachs, Shady Maple, Oregon Dairy, Sadie’s Bakery and even the small bakery outside of Terre Hill will all have fasnachts available. If in doubt, call The Artist’s Inn and we’ll steer you to a fasnacht nearby.

No matter how you fry your dough, enjoy Fat Tuesday. I’m heading for the kitchen….

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