Thursday, 2 April 2009

Lent Season

We're in Lent right now, as I was reminded yesterday, and our dinner sort of got me thinking about fasting and fasting in Lent in particular.
We went to some friends yesterday and had dinner there - we brought a salad to go with the pastries our friends prepared. Simple puff pastries filled with minced meat and bell peppers.

It's been a good while since I had bell peppers in a hot meal, because our groceries from the box are seasonal and regional produce, and that means no bell peppers in winter. There are still enough different veggies to prepare meals with, but in the last few months of eating local vegetables, I developed a new and deeper understanding of how wonderful spring and summer is when you are living "the old way". It's true that we can read about it, that connected to Easter festivities is the knowledge that this was to celebrate the beginning of the warm season, et cetera et cetera - but knowing this intellectually and looking forward to spring because it directly influences your diet are two very different things.

So yesterday's addition of bell peppers made that dinner an extremely enjoyable meal for me. With the feeling of true luxury (they were very tasty peppers, too). And I started to wonder about lent in the middle ages - fourty days of food restrictions in a row. Food restrictions normally limited to a few days out of each week, hard enough to understand for our modern minds. And that at more or less the end of the winter season, when the tasty treats conserved for the cold half of the year are probably gone or mostly gone, when chickens might stop laying so many eggs, when everyone is probably tired of eating beans, lentils and cabbage dishes.

So. The rather bland winter diet (bland at least compared to summer and autumn fare), followed by a period of even blander food, cutting out meat altogether. Fourty days of scarcity, and then - Easter, the high church festival of the year, the onset of spring, the feasting with meat and eggs and whathaveyou. Somehow, this makes me think of intentional deprivation to heighten the impact of the feasting and celebrating. Digging into the foodie goodness prepared for the Easter meal must have been something really, really special after seasonal winter food and Lent. Something that we today, when following Lent, might only get a small taste of, because my guess is that the winter foodstuff before Lent makes a huge difference.

And by the way, I'm really looking forward to spring.

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