Saturday, September 30, 2006

Just another Friday

My husband has been on a quest to reunite himself with his faith, which is, of course, Greek Orthodoxy. Most people that know me know that I am lukewarm, at best, towards religion in general (I don’t discriminate, I dislike all religions equally) but I accept my husband’s faith because it is part of who he is.

One thing that is critical in Greek Orthodoxy is fasting. If you don’t fast, you aren’t supposed to take communion. I don’t know if it is like this in Catholicism, but every other church I’ve been to that has communion doesn’t seem to make such requirements. Maybe I just never knew about it, and they do. I guess it doesn’t matter though, because I don’t take communion, except once by accident.

So my husband’s spiritual advisor has asked him to start fasting on Fridays, eventually to extend to Wednesdays (I don’t really know why these are the designated fasting days of the week, because if you take communion on Sunday you have to fast Saturday, but whatever – I’m sure there is a reason somewhere, I just don’t know it). While I don’t have to fast, I have decided to join him in fasting, because what kind of asshole eats meat or cheese or something in front of someone who is fasting? In other words, I am trying to be supportive, and besides, what does it hurt to remove all animal-related products from your diet once or twice a week (when we get to those 40 and 50 day fasts before Christmas and Easter, we’ll have to renegotiate).

I never realized how many foods contain some form of animal product until we started this fasting business. Foods that I think might be alright when I look at the packaging end up containing eggs or butter. Luckily, our favorite brand of pasta does not include egg, so pasta is an acceptable fasting food. I also found some nice frozen foods that are sans animal products – veggie burgers, potato croquettes, and kolokithokefetedes (my favorite!). And of course there are beans, rice, and things like that, although I don’t fancy beans and really hate rice. At any rate, fasting one or two days a week is manageable, or so I thought.

Getting by with no meat is fairly easy. While I enjoy me a tasty critter, I don’t have extreme urges for meat. In fact, when I was single, I rarely ate meat. Moving to the meat eating capital of the world increased my intake significantly, so having an excuse not to eat it is actually a relief. Milk isn’t so difficult to go without either – sure, as an aging woman I try to drink a glass or two a day, but sometimes I don’t. So sue me. Eggs I never eat, and butter isn’t much of an issue. The only time these things are a problem is when they show up on the ingredients list of something I’d like to eat.

The only thing that has caused any grief in this whole fasting experience is the lack of cheese. I don’t eat cheese every day. I don’t think to myself on a daily basis “wow, I must have cheese”. Yet for some reason, on fasting days, the only thing I can think about cheese. Cheese, cheese, and more cheese. I think of how wonderful cheese is. I think about everyday, practical items being made of cheese. I see warm, melted cheese everywhere. It gets to the point where I honestly believe if I don’t have cheese the world will have some sort of temporal disruption that causes the end of all cheese. A world without cheese would be pretty damn serious. I must save the world and eat some cheese! But then I’d break the fast. And then I’d feel guilty. So I keep thinking “tomorrow I can have some cheese” but then the devil breathes in my ear, “but you CAN have cheese. Cheese is good. Must have cheese. Now. Get some cheese”. Then I start to realize what a weird word cheese is. It looks strange. Really odd. Like tree. I can’t take those double e words. But maybe if I eat some cheese, it won’t seem so strange to me. But I can’t. I can’t eat cheese. No way, no how. But my body needs the cheese! Oh, God, why hast thou forsaken my cheese?!

This internal dialogue actually goes on for so long that by the time I’m done obsessing, it is time for bed, and then I wake up and it is Saturday and I can have cheese again. Phew.

Except then I don’t want any cheese.


Anonymous said...

zardoz says :

fasting huh..

interesting , personally im atheist
as a greek-american can go .
but seems your support for your
lifepartner is endearing.
my life partner doesnt enjoy
such companionship on a religious
"lets say level"
but the fasting does me well.
actually ive done some great fasting
before easter with friends of the
cloth ,, with steaks and ribs.
being atheist i wondered about
my priest friends , eating meat
before easter , .
Then they let me in , on how they
scrape by religiously on the subject.

"They baptise the meat as greens".

under any circumstance I am not
your support or THANOS FAITH.
Its just my personal experience.

living in a country were faith
isnt what it used to be.


J.Doe said...

I don't want to be mean, but you can always eat peas. HA HA HA (just kidding)

Flubberwinkle said...

Mel, I've got to hand it you. If there was an Oscar for best-supporting wife during husband's fast, I'm sure the Lent Academy would give it to you! Not only are you not eating any of the no-nos in front of Doc, but you're not eating them. at. all. He's a very lucky guy.

I'm not into any religions or Gods, either. I haven't fasted for religious reasons, but I have been on scores of varying diets. I've had the same reaction when there's "no cheese". Then, when the diet's over, I don't want any cheese either.

Strange, how we yearn for "forbidden" fruits (or dairy products) just because they are "forbidden"...

sappho said...

Guess bacons out, too!

Your a good wife, Mel!

David said...

it is good of you to support him in this way!

Jay3gsm said...

As Catholic, we fast one hour before communion, or we can't take it. It's not a hard and fast rule to fast on Fridays, tradtionally though we would avoid meat. Meat is a definite no no during Fridays of Lent. And during Lent we give up other foods, such as dairy goods, sweets n treats, etc.
As it goes, this Friday is a fast day. Everyone is asked to fast for the day and to donate the money that you would have spent on lunch to CAFOD.

melusina said...

Zardoz, in the end, I think you and I share the same attitudes. But I am the last person to deny anyone else their faith, and in a marriage, you gotta be supportive. I've no doubt that there is plenty of "cheating", even amongst priests. But that is between them and God.

J.Doe, very funny. Actually, there are WHOLE PEAS in the veggie burgers we buy. The peas and I have a new arrangement, although the relationship is still rocky.

Flubberwinkle, that is the catch, for sure. When you can't have something, you want it. When you can, you don't. People are weird like that.

Lol, Sappho - all my food stories are coming back to haunt me! Being a good wife is certainly something you have to work at.

Thanks for stopping by, David. Support is everything in a marriage, and these small sacrifices can only make me a better person, I think.

Jay, I wasn't sure what the Catholic rule was. When I went to Catholic school no one ever really talked about fasting, so I had never heard the fast before communion thing. Donating money is a nice touch.