Thursday, 14 March 2013

Lent: 7 Things

1) I have got to stop looking at recipes for things I can't eat. This morning I nearly caught myself drooling. So far I've fantasised over Italian Sausage Tortellini Soup, and this most amazing sounding Gingerbread monkey bread with maple whiskey glaze. Omigawd.  There are a few tasty looking Lent friendly ideas I spied though: A pineapple mango smoothie, and this sweet potato chipotle soup with avocado

woah.

2) Lent is most definitely the wrong time to host a brunch. When we were in the process of buying our house I was so excited at the notion of having a dining room in which I could entertain. One meal I especially have always wanted to host is brunch. True, this is mostly because I want an excuse to drink mimosas and bloody marys, and I can't bring myself to drink such healthy alcoholic beverages in the evening. It's a late morning/early afternoon type of lifestyle. Something to imbibe while the sun is still up.
But brunch is also an excuse to show off your baking skills and combine savory with sweet. I love going for brunch at a buffet and loading up on pasta primavera and danishes. At no other meal can I literally eat all of my favourite foods at the same time.
My good friend, who is also an amazing cook came over a few weekends ago for brunch before joining me on a hair and makeup trial. She brought a crustless quiche, and I made vegan lemon poppy seed muffins and a fruit salad. Don't get me wrong it was all very tasty; but it also felt like we were putting on a brave show. I would have loved, instead, to have made quiche lorrain with a crust, or some sticky cinnamon rolls, or some fruity shrub. I would have loved to at least have milk in my coffee.

3)It is amazing how many people think I'm suffering through Lent. Sure, I'm looking forward to Easter, but mostly because I want to cook the meal. What meal does one usually eat on Easter, anyway? Is it brunch? Lunch? Dinner? I'm never quite certain, because unlike Thanksgiving or Christmas we tend to celebrate Easter in bright sunshine. Christmas and Thanksgiving are more like really late lunch or early dinner. Anyway, I'd really like to make a roast lamb with some asparagus and roast potatoes with a new springy salad. And a coconut apricot cake for desert. Oooooh and maybe some gravlax and shrimp cocktail for starters.... and a nice red wine to go with the meal and maybe some rose tea for afters? Okay, I'm getting carried away now. The point is, I'm not really suffering. Even those few times when I look at the lunch I brought with me and sigh because it is exactly what I do not want, I'm still quite satisfied with some General Tso's Shrimp from the Chinese takeaway.

4)What is getting harder is thinking of 7 friggin thoughts every week to share. When I started this I thought I'd get all spiritual and thoughtful and think more about the implications of my soul being shriven and cleansed and all that jazz.  But the thing is... this hasn't been that hard. So I haven't had to constantly squash down my cravings for this or that, whatever thought #1 might say otherwise. Sometimes I want a little snack, so I go have some peanuts, or chips and salsa, or candied ginger, or carrots and hummus. You get the idea. It's been remarkably easy, in terms of redirecting my mind, to physically reach for something else, and it's been remarkably easy to admit to myself that I'm done eating and don't currently need to eat more.

5)Okay, I confess: This past weekend, at my aunts house I had chocolate cake and ice cream. She also served us a quiche that had some mild cheese in it. Dan, before we went, asked me if I had told her of our current eating habits and I grimaced and admitted I hadn't. I was and still am a bit chicken about things like this. But I was relying on the fact that my aunt knew Dan's a year-round vegetarian. So, actually, as we were driving away, I did have a minor religious moment: When my aunt asked us if we'd like chocolate cake and ice cream we both said yes, because it was the polite thing to do and because I didn't want her to feel badly that we couldn't eat it. Also, she makes the best damn chocolate cake I've ever had in my life.
But, if I were to put stock in these biblical stories and parables, I should've refused. Because God would rather one stuck to their principles as opposed to pleasing others. What if one of your principles is to be a co-operative and pleasing guest?
This is where Dan and I often split in opinions. He thinks that being a host means pulling out all the stops for his guests, doing whatever they want, at possibly great inconvenience to himself. I think being a guest means the host has generously offered to share what they have and their home space to boot, therefore the guest should take pains to be gracious and accommodating and go with the flow.

6)One of the reasons I'm chicken about telling people I'm going to be a rather inconvenient guest can be illustrated in the following story: We went for a Sunday lunch. They had prepared salmon for the two of us to go with pasta and sauce and salad. I don't know how it was brought up, but for what felt like 5 minutes our host went on about how, "if Rosie wasn't fasting she'd be enjoying this nice delicious juicy chicken with the rest of us and not eating salmon." As though it were somehow abnormal or irregular to eat salmon when there's chicken offered. I felt like a giant spotlight had been turned on me and any moment, as though from a cartoon, people would start turning their heads and chiming one after another demanding to know, "yeah! Why are you not eating chicken? Why are you being so weird?!"

7)St. Patrick's day makes for an interesting dilemma. One year, after my sometimes-Catholic always Irish acquaintance scolded me for eating a hot dog on Ash Wednesday (I justified it 2 ways: I hadn't feasted on Shrove Tuesday, and there's hardly any actual meat in a hot dog). I pointed out that not eating meat on that particular Wednesday and eating fried fish on Fridays was hardly abstaining or sacrificial. Later on I shared a little tidbit of information I found interesting: During Lent, the Irish would cook their St. Patrick's bacon by boiling it under the cabbage to hide that they were breaking the fast from the local clergy. She immediately pounced on that and said, "no no, they got special dispensation from the Vatican."
Well, actually, that's not entirely true. Doing some research on this dispensation led me to websites like Catholic online and what I'm seeing is that this is more a Federal vs. State issue. Your local archdiocese grants the dispensation if IF St. Patrick's day falls on a Friday. Because, remember, this is the only day of the week that the Fast is actually observed. Father Brian Mahoney (of course) of the archdiocese of Boston pointed out that normally, on the church calendar, St. Patrick is an optional memorial that doesn’t even have to be celebrated. Try telling that to all the Irish and those who magically become Irish on St. Patty's day. I'm Scottish and even I look forward to it (but more so to Rabbie Burns day because it gives me a good excuse to drink plenty of whiskey).
So, if it falls on a Tuesday, go ahead and enjoy your corned beef guilt free (unless you gave it up for Lent, but why would one ever willingly give up bacon?). If it's a Sunday, all bets are off because Sundays don't count anyway. If it's a Friday, check with your parish.
Simple, right?

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