Food for the soul
07 April, 2011
Food for the soul

Last week I went to lunch with a friend of mine, a ballet instructor Tika Alavidze. It was a lousy Tuesday, raining and grey and very cold for spring, so we decided to start our day right. We had gone to see the new Toulouse Lautrec exhibit at the High Museum of Art and went over to Table 12 for coffee and desert. When we were given the menus Tika mentioned that she couldn’t eat any dish with meat in

it. Surprised, I asked her when had she become a vegetarian, no, she said she hadn’t, but that this was time for Lent, or as I refer to it – time for the soul diet.


The first time I had run into fasting was in Tbilisi, Georgia. I found restaurants and food stores that sold ready made dishes to have two menus. I asked why there were two menus and I was told that one menu was for regular days and months and the other was for fast appropriate time. I thought it was a genius PR move for all of the food industry and on the human level, very accommodating. I don’t fast, (I had tried going vegan before in highschool and ended up eating so much bread I almost got violently sick from overexposure to dough), but I respect people who do. Cleansing and purification of the body was a big thing when I lived in California, so I semi understand the fasting.   In LA my friends did it, supposedly to cleanse their bodies to feel better physically, in Tbilisi they did it for purification of the mind. It was obviously not for the sake of the body, because the amount of dough consumed during any fasting is ridiculous. What I  found curious was that while it was acceptable to follow the rules of Lent because the bible said so, going vegetarian for life, for personal reasons was not something my peers understood. Whenever I said no, thank you to meat, I was looked upon as a crazy woman.
I didn’t ask Tika to elaborate on the issue of Lent, because I didn’t want to sound like an ignoramus, so the first thing I did when I got home was to google Christian Orthodox Lent. I found some relevant sites and some not so relevant sites such as the site about a Georgia Lent who is a young Justin Beeber fan and is currently on Twitter and Facebook. I discovered that Lent for Christian Orthodox starts seven weeks before Easter. This is the longest fast of the year and it’s not only time for fasting on dough, but time for repentance and spiritual reflection upon the life (your own and not your neighbors or your relatives) lived. There is also supposed to be a lot of praying, but that wasn’t something I had focused on in Tbilisi. I was focused on counting down days to when I could start eating cheese again. Too much buckwheat, and all other kinds of wheat nearly drove me insane. My mind was so concerned with food it had no patience with my soul, and I couldn’t concentrate even on five minutes of reflection. I gave up on day three. I acknowledged my weakens by chowing down on khachapuri (cheesebread).
After the immediate gratification I was suddenly struck with the thought that I never wanted to fast in the first place, but was peer pressured into it, just like I was peer pressured into doing a cleanse once in Santa Monica. I quit both times because I think I knew it wasn’t for me. So for this Lent, even thought I am late in the game, I have decided to give up something I can actually live without.  Facebook - see you in seventeen days.

 

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