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March 19, 2010

Sheepish about pizza


Bless me, father, for I have sinned. It's a Friday in Lent and I just ate meat.

I didn't mean to do it. I packed a vegetarian lunch -- a veggie quinoa dish I'd made for a food section story on Passover for Jewish vegetarians.

(Quick sidetrip to the subject of Passover and vegetarians: Seems that not only leavened bread is out, but also legumes if you're Ashkenazi. That means no tofu, no beans, no nothing it seems.

Enter quinoa. It could pass for cous cous, but it comes from a plant. It's not technically considered a grain and K-Star Kosher Certification gives it the thumbs up for Passover, in part because the stuff -- it hails from Peru -- was unknown to Old Country Jews when they set out all those holiday dos and don'ts.)

So anyway, I had to make cous cous so we'd have a picture in the paper. I figured I could eat some of it for lunch after the photo shoot. I left the food with the photographer and intended to claim my quinoa when he was done.

And then someone had to go and buy Sheila Dixon's Persian lamb coat!

We knew the other day that the mayor's lamb and mink coats were sold on eBay, but only this morning did I reach one of the buyers. And it turns out the gal who snapped up the lamb had a funny story: the buyer is a university lawyer who wants to use the jacket as a prop when she trains staff in ethics.

I'm not blaming the ex-mayor -- I've picked on her plenty -- but her illicit lamb coat led me to illicit lamb pizza.

I got busy writing the fur-coat story. The photographer got dispatched to shoot the buyer's picture. And my quinoa got locked in the photo studio.

By afternoon, with no sign of photog or quinoa, I decided to order an Iggies pizza. Looking up the number on the Web site, I saw the restaurant's Pizza of the Month: roasted peppers, roasted potatoes, lamb sausage and mozzarella. Sounded great. I phoned in the order.

Only as I walked up Calvert Street to claim La Pecora Nera pie did I remember that lamb and Lenten Fridays do not mix.

Maybe a good Catholic would have picked off the spicy little sausage rounds. Or stuck the whole thing in the fridge until Saturday.

But that little pizza cost me $10.07. I was eating it whole and hot.

Surely God wouldn't want good pizza to go to waste. (And it was good.) How about I go meat free tomorrow and we call it even?


Sun photo by Kenneth K. Lam

Posted by Laura Vozzella at 4:04 PM | | Comments (9)


You are okay. If you check the last page of the Catholic Review, there is an article about the feast of St. Joseph (today). Because it is a Solemn Feast Day, it supersedes Lent and Catholics can eat meat today.

Another work around: Go to Holy Thursday Mass. Every one i've been to offers general absolute for the attendees. Also, there's the super cool consecration of the new holy water, ashes and oil for the year.
Also, some archdioceses grant a "time out" during Lent for St Patrick's Day (if it occurs on a Friday) so eating of meat is permissible.

My understanding is that one reason we give up meat during Lent is not directly related to food, per se: it's more about money. The purpose of giving up meat is to take the money we save by abstaining from meat (obviously meat was more of a luxury and more expensive back in the day) and donating that money to your parish or a charity. It's ok to eat meat if you're in a bind, just make sure to give back to your community in true Christian spirit.

Religiously, i have to disagree. The nuns told us that it was to have a communal as well as personal sacrifice during the most solemn and scared time of the Church. Pre Vatican II, NO MEAT at all during Lent (children and the elderly/infirm being exempt) as well as your own personal contribution to your faith ie giving up cigarettes, chocolate, pleasures of the flesh.
From a socioeconomic standpoint, it also made sense because the vast majority of early Christians/ Catholics were subsistence farmers, the majority of their food animals would not start to reproduce with any regularity until spring/ summer. Preserved food didn't keep for months on end, thus the tradition of Mardi Gras/ Shrove Tuesday.. eating that which would have gone bad.
The fasting rules of Lent have changed radically since the founding of the Church; it's a very interesting topic worth the time to research. At some points dairy was forbidden , to be earned by pious acts, even.

March 19th (yesterday's Friday) was actually St. Joseph's Day this year, and apparently (as I learned from a Facebook friend yesterday - where I get all important information these days - sigh), if it falls on a Friday during Lent, the meat fast obligation is lifted.

See wikipedia:

So it seems like you lucked out and are A-OK with God.

My favorite (dumb) conspiracy theory is that the fish on Fridays thing came about the Church controls the fishing industry (worldwide, natch) and wants to throw some money their way. Proof: St. Peter was a fisherman, ipso facto.

I'm a lapsed Lutheran. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be eating or not eating this week.

I always thought it was nice that Muslims could make up for Ramadan fasting days missed due to travel, pregnancy or illness. Then again, not sure if that's a practice that all Muslims follow ...

My mom always said that we didn't have to fast for Yom Kippur if it made us ill. I figure starving to death = illness, draw your own conclusions though!

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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