In the Orthodox Church, Lent means fasting. And fasting means coming up with creative ways to make lentils taste better. In Great Lent Unplugged, Jean Hoefling gives us an entire chapter dedicated to helpful Lenten recipes.
We have Air Tacos. In making air tacos, one swoops a taco shell through the air, hoping to pick up leftover prayers and chapters of Isaiah. It’s simple, delicious, and fun to make.
A classic is a Crust of Dry Bread and Melancholy Glass of Water. The penitence in this meal is palpable.
Hoefling discusses the Semi-Festive Bean Thing, known better as “plaki”. Green beans of all types drowning in tomato sauce and onions. We are given a passage from Proverbs on the Semi-Festive Bean Thing.
How long, O Lenten fasters, will you love this bean obsession? Behold, I will pour out my thoughts to you. There will come a time when you will call upon me, but I will not answer. I will be overcooked, with runny broth, or burnt on the bottom of the crock. They will seek me diligently, but I will not answer, for I will be turned into roast lamb and 27 platters of baklava on Pascha morning.
My favorite, by far, is the recipe designed to last through Holy Week. During Holy Week, there are services every night, at 7, no matter how many people pretend to not know when service is going to start, and that’s why they were late. If you’re interested in getting to church on time, a quick meal is always welcome. Thus, we have Large Vegetable Sitting By Itself. By taking a large vegetable (Hoefling recommends a pumpkin), cooking it whole, and plopping it on the table, one can have a center piece and something to eat every time you run by to go to church again.
On the subject of fasting, my priest likes to tell us of a conversation he had with a woman during the Lenten season. She mentioned how easy it was to fast every year. Fr. Jon asked why.
“Oh, I’m already a vegan. I eat like this all year.”
Fr. Jon tried, to no avail, to explain to her that the point of fasting was sacrifice, and perhaps she should find something else to give up. It went over her head.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go buy a pumpkin.