A Lesson from Fasting

As I’ve discussed before, I “go vegan” during Lent and Advent. I eliminate all animal products from my diet. The biggest change is the absence of meat although for someone who loves to bake the eggs are noticeable too. Now, eliminating animal products is not intended as a penance but rather as a way of simplifying my life so that I can better focus on Christ.

Well, Lent has ended. It is the Paschal season. Meat is permitted again. And I’ll eat it if it’s an option. But I’m not as eager to dive back into eat it as one might have thought. Sure, it’s nice to know that I’m able to eat meat again, but it’s not always what I actually want. I’m starting to find that I like eating meatless meals. Yes, there are meals with meat that I like and that I want to prepare/eat. But with the passing of each meatless season, I find that I’m not as eager to dive back into eating meat as I was forty days earlier.

I’ve come to realize that simplifying my life does not have to be solely the provenance of fasting seasons. In general, my life ought to be lived in simplicity and with a focus on Christ. Now, you can eat meat and live simply. As a single woman who cooks only for myself, I tend to do “large batch cooks” and eat whatever I’ve prepared until I run out. I’m currently working through a Mediterranean chicken salad-lettuce, cucumber, tomato, chicken, avocado, olives, and dressing. It’s nothing fancy. But that’s kind of the point. Live simply. Yes, I’m eating chicken, but I’m doing in it in a simple fashion. The fanciest part of that salad is the olives. The idea is to think less about what I’m eating (while eating good and healthy food) and focus more on what life is really about.

Now that doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy good food. I’ll be the first to tell you that I love sitting down with a well-cooked meal. I don’t object to eating good food or going out for dinner or drinks with friends. I enjoy going out to eat with friends to celebrate a special occasion or having a well-cooked meal with friends. But the most important part of those meals is not the quality of the food but the quality of the company. Case in point: Last summer, I went out for dinner with a few friends after seeing a play together. I can’t tell you exactly what I ate or drank (but I can guess based on the venue), but I can tell you about the experience of friendship. I may not remember exactly what I drank or ate when I grabbed cocktails with friends at one of my favorite bars, but I remember the experience.

For me, experiences and relationships are more important than food. Now, I’m Italian-American. I love to cook, and I love good food. But life isn’t just about the food. Life is about the people with whom we spend time and the relationships we build. Fasting has shown me that my meals don’t need to be extravagant to be good. Simple food can be good food. I don’t need to eat meat every day. Some of life’s best moments are found in simplicity.

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Can a mother forget her child?

I need to come clean about something.

Guys, I really LOVE hummus. You know that tahini/garbanzo beans/garlic mash that you put on pita bread or toast or chips or eat out of the container? I love it. I love it more than reason.

Got it?

Good.

Now I need to tell you something else.

Are you ready for this?

I also really LOVE guacamole. You know that avocado/tomato/garlic/onion mash that you put on chips or burritos or tacos or salad or eat out of the container? I love it. I love it as much as I love hummus.

So, I really like these two condiments. That’s okay. I’d never put guac on my falafel, and I’d never put hummus on my burritos. So far, so good, right?

Right, we’re all good. We’re all fine. I can eat one sometimes and the other at other times. It’s all good.

Until a BuzzFeed article asked me to pick between the two.

Seriously, I had to pick my preference.

I DON’T HAVE A PREFERENCE. I WANT THEM BOTH. ALL THE TIME.

Just not together.

Don’t make me choose. I love them both.

They are both smooth and delicious and garlicky and beautiful. Parents shouldn’t have favorite children. And I can’t have favorite condiments.