It's Fat Tuesday and, no, this is not another blog about obesity. I've been accused of being a Debbie Downer on that particular subject but, in my own defense, I write about health care and, let's face it, obesity is hard to ignore in health care these days.
Actually, I come in praise of fasnachts, which I remember fondly from my youth in Pennsylvania Dutch country. Praising fasnachts is the opposite of scolding about obesity. If everybody in this country ate one fasnacht a month for 12 months, by next February, we would have to move all the Canadians out of Canada so half of us Americans could squeeze in up there.
Fasnachts are voluptuous globs of deep-fried dough that can be eaten plain or topped off with powdered sugar or cinnamon. They can even be frosted, though purists would complain that's gilding the lily. They are nothing like those pointless French concoctions that are all flaky and delicate, or wimpy paczki out of Poland or, God forbid, something you'd find in Dunkin Donuts.
Fasnachts are German, and, as we all know, when it comes to pastry — or anything else, for that matter — Germans mean business. Fasnachts were invented as a way to use up all the lard and sugar in the pantry because people were forbidden to eat that stuff during Lent. And, really, what spells "yummy" better than lard and sugar?
Made according to rigorous Pennsylvania Dutch specifications, fasnachts have roughly the density of semi-set concrete. Some people claim the Communists used them to build the Berlin Wall. I don't know about that, but they are a handful to hold and you'd better make sure your dentures are securely glued down before you take that first bite.
One of the benefits of fasnachts is that if you eat one on Fat Tuesday, it will take all 40 days of Lent to fully digest. In fact, my brother claims he's still digesting the one he ate around this time last year.
The point is, they taste delicious, and it's not like you're going to down a dozen of them in one sitting. That's not humanly possible. Sometimes good health care means indulging ourselves a little. It's Fat Tuesday. Indulge.