Today is the first Friday of Lent—no meat for those observing Lenten practices. And here’s some interesting Catholic trivia I found while looking up Lenten fasting: “abstinence,” which in this case refers to not eating meat, does not include “meat juices and liquid foods made from meat. Thus, such foods as chicken broth, consommé, soups cooked or flavored with meat, meat gravies or sauces, as well as seasonings or condiments made from animal fat are not forbidden. So it is permissible to use margarine and lard.” Mmm! Also, “even bacon drippings which contain little bits of meat may be poured over lettuce as seasoning,” and (thank goodness someone has cleared this up once and for all), “no one considers gelatin or Jell-O to be meat” (Father John Huels, The Pastoral Companion). So you can’t eat a burger, but you could eat, say, a salad with lots of bacon bits, or even pasta with marinara sauce. And in case it was theological doubt holding you back, go right ahead and enjoy that Jell-O, guilt-free.
Like almost every woman in the Western world, where we have the luxury of worrying about eating too much, food is sometimes often almost always an issue for me. I have used it to play out a variety of neuroses over the years—mostly by hypochondriacally imbuing it with magical healing powers–and have practiced vegetarianism, veganism, low carb/high proteinism, and most disastrously, macrobiotics. I once asked one of my friends who is up on a lot of Asian practices what he knew about macrobiotics and he said, “I think it involves a lot of small containers.”