Almost-Primal Orthodox Christian Lenten Eating and Cooking
(Note: There is a recipe index at posts #101 and #102 at the top of page 11:
[B]Blessed Lent 2013 to all Orthodox Christian Groksters out there!!! [/B] This year our Pascha (Easter) is just about as late as it can be – May 5. We are on a different schedule than our Roman Catholic and Protestant Christian brothers and sisters. Some years we have the same Easter, some years we are one week later and some years – like this year – we are 5 weeks later, so today is our first day of Lent.
For those of you who are curious about the Lenten challenges we face regarding diet, here is the way Lenten Fasting is done in my church -- different priests may use different guidelines. If you are an Orthodox Christian, follow the advice of your own priest!
First of all, of course, pregnant and nursing mothers are not supposed to fast. Also if you are sick you don't need to fast. Fasting is to weaken us and make us more dependent and focused on God. If you are sick you are already dependent on God. If you get sick during Lent, lighten the fast!!!
According to my priest, Orthodox Lenten fasting is entered into in a series of steps:
1. The first step is to abstain from meat (this step does not include abstaining from seafood). For first-timers, this is all my priest recommends. On this step we are not to worry about the restrictions on eggs, dairy, etc... This one step is enough for beginners. At this step my priest also recommends trying to attend as many Lenten services as you can. Although if attending every service is too heavy a burden, he says to take a break -- but come back after missing a service or two.
When my husband and I were inquiring into the Orthodox faith the priest told us about one young man who did everything perfectly his first Lent. He followed all of the fasting guidelines and he came to all of the services. The last service he came to was Pascha (Easter) – after which our priest never saw him again. The effort had been too great and he never wanted to repeat it. How sad!
2. The next step into Orthodox Lenten fasting is to abstain from eggs or dairy.
3. The next step is to abstain from fish with backbones. (Frequently though, when Orthodox Christians are traveling during Lent and we have to depend on restaurants for meals, we will eat fish.)
4. The next step is not to cook with olive oil or drink wine or alcoholic beverages on week days.
(Seafood without backbones: clams, shrimp, oysters, scallops, etc... are always okay.)
Wine and Olive oil are allowed on Saturdays and Sundays during Lent because Saturday is the Sabbath observed by Jesus and the day he rested in the tomb, and Sunday is the Lord's day – the Day of Resurrection. They are feast days within the Fast.
Fish, oil, and wine are allowed on the Annunciation (March 25) and on Palm Sunday. Wine is allowed on Holy Thursday in remembrance of the Lord's Supper.
So, as you can see – during Lent we need to take an “almost-Primal” approach to our cooking and eating – hence the name of this thread.
Anyone out there with some good suggestions for us regarding how we can keep the fast without getting too far off the primal beaten path is welcome to post!