Wednesday, Oct 17, 2018
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Mary Bilyeu

Paczki event celebrates food and furry friends

  • Sasha-Mary-Bilyeu-s-cat

    Sasha, No. 4 of food editor Mary Bilyeu's five cats, who was adopted in 2017 at the Paczki for Paws event hosted by Michael's Cafe and Bakery, along with Paws and Whiskers Cat Shelter.

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  • Mary-Bilyeu-s-cat-Sasha

    Sasha, one of food editor Mary Bilyeu's five cats, nestled into the nest she made from a filing folder. Sasha was adopted in 2017 at the Paczki for Paws event hosted by Michael's Cafe and Bakery, along with Paws and Whiskers Cat Shelter.

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Today marks my fourth anniversary at The Blade.

Four years of team-themed Super Bowl dishes. Four years of Christmas cookies and Thanksgiving turkeys. And four years of fantastic food fests like National Brownie Day.

Also, four years of celebrating Paczki Day, one of the great, glorious, gluttonous events of the year, which arrives Feb. 13, the day before Ash Wednesday. And that means, of course, that we’ve had four years of my annual pronunciation and grammar lessons in honor of the occasion. (Anyone who’s been following along for these past 48 months knows I’m just a tad persnickety about such matters. No, really — it’s true!)

Paczki is pronounced POONCH-key or PAWNCH-key. I’ve spoken with native Polish speakers and have been taught both, so please don’t write to correct me — there can be regional variations and differing accents in other languages, just as there are in English. Pick whichever you prefer, or use whichever pronunciation your own family taught you.

You eat one paczek (POON- or PAWN-chek) with hedonistic abandon, or you buy multiple paczki to offer to family and friends, gleefully sharing the wealth of sugar, fat, and calories. But you never eat a single paczki, because it would be impossible — such a thing does not exist because the word paczki is plural. And don’t forget this, too: An apostrophe is never used in an attempt to form a plural — i.e. paczki’s — unless you want to cause my eye to twitch.

Yes, those Facebook memes about judging grammar all have my name on them. As do all the videos of cute, cuddly kittens, because I wear my crazy cat lady crown with immense pride and a few stray bits of feline fluff. I have five cats.

And so, when there is a confluence of pets and paczki (to get back to the original topic), how can I not share the good news?

Paczki for Paws is the annual fund-raiser held by Michael’s Café and Bakery, 101 Main St. It’s part paczki sale, part adopt-a-thon, and all in support of Paws and Whiskers, Toledo’s only no-kill all-cat shelter at 32 Hillwyck Dr.

From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Paczki Day, you’ll be able to pick up an array of those beautiful Polish pastries at the bakery. And if you’ve got room in your home and your heart for a new fur-ever friend, you could take home a new pussycat, too. Paws and Whiskers will bring a few of their wards to the paczki party, in hopes of playing matchmaker. My fourth cat, Sasha, was adopted at last year’s event.

Michael’s will donate 50 cents to Paws and Whiskers for every dozen paczki sold Feb. 13. Throughout the entire week, from Monday through Feb. 17, they’ll also collect tips that will be given to the shelter so that customers stopping by for coffee and cake, soups and sandwiches, or any of the other available goodies can help the good cause. At 2017’s event, the bakery set aside $150 from paczki sales and earned almost $350 in tips; along with other donations, they were able to give $800 to help care for all the cats and kittens at the shelter.

Call 419-698-2988 to place orders ahead of time for pickup on the 13th; the flavors being offered are apple, apricot, Bavarian cream, blueberry, cherry, chocolate, chocolate peanut butter, lemon, plain, raisin, raspberry, and strawberry. Go for the paczki and stay to snuggle with the cats. Maybe you’ll find a new family member.

On Paczki Day, Michael’s Bakery and Paws and Whiskers make a purr-fect pair.

Contact Mary Bilyeu at, and follow her at​thebladefoodpage, bladefoodpage on Instagram, or @BladeFoodPage on Twitter.

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