Saturday, February 17, 2007

Lenten Penitential Meals

As the penitential season of Lent approaches, and I make my menu plans, I start thinking about what constitutes a "penitential" meal for my family.

My dad expressed it well when we were kids: "If pizza or fish is a treat, how can it be a penance?"

Maybe it's a penance only for the one who has to budget around the extra expense of eating fish instead of less-expensive meats, or ordering a pizza?

I wouldn't want to serve my family foods they don't like, and call it a penance. All I'd achieve would be rebellion and wastefulness.

No one has really noticed that I've been serving them meatless dinners every Friday for months now. It's pretty much become routine. Growing up, I was taught that only Fridays in Lent were supposed to be meatless (and Ash Wednesday, of course!) but I have learned lately that all Fridays are penitential days. I haven't mentioned it--it's just been happening here. But I bet the issue will be on the table, so to speak, the first Friday after Easter.

It's been more of a stretch for me than for them. They eat what I put on the table. (Sometimes someone moans and groans about it, but my family generally consists of good eaters--even adventurous ones. Middle Sister likes sushi, for example.) I am the one who thinks about what to serve on which day, and I can shuffle the meal plan as events warrant, but Friday's dinner is Friday's dinner because that is Meatless Night.

But anyway, the issue at hand really is: if they really LIKE shrimp marinara over linguine, or Spanish Garlic Shrimp, or sauteed tilapia, or even pizza, where's the sacrifice?

Maybe it's time to lay this on the table with my family and see what ideas everyone comes up with.

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