Ash Wednesday, lovingly known as Dirty Forehead Day, is this week. For Christians, this marks a time of penance and sacrifice before Easter. One of the common practices is to give something cherished up during Lent. Some things are very easy ("I won't eat frog during Lent!" "I refuse to participate in Burning Man during Lent.") and others are very, very hard. Following are five foods you may have the most trouble giving up.
Coffee: As soon as someone tells me he or she is giving up coffee for Lent, I have to suppress a manic giggle. I tried that one once; I told myself I was going to make use of Lent to kick caffeine's hold over my life. I was going to purify myself with only cool water and maybe juice now and then, and I was even going to be pleasant about it. Riiiight. It lasted exactly two days before people started leaving very unsubtle hints on my desk, in the form of Vivarin and Starbucks gift cards. It's hard to give up anything with a scent that calls to you from four blocks away, especially given how many coffeeshops there are around here.
Meat: I admire vegetarians who hold to their beliefs in a world full of delicious meat. I admire part-time vegetarians as well, because even if you give up meat in the best of faith for Lent, chances are you're going to end up with pork fat or chicken broth in something you eat and you won't tumble to it until you've thought about it later in bed. The worst kind of failure during Lent is one over which you had no real control. It's hard enough to remember not to eat meat on Fridays, let alone for all six weeks.
Fast Food: Lasts until the first time you have a meeting that runs through lunch and you have exactly eleven minutes to get food before the next one starts. You're halfway through the drive-through when you think about the fact that you aren't supposed to be eating this dreck. You've placed your order, though, and so you rationalize your failure by refusing to confuse the kid at the window by pulling out of the line. Besides, Fridays mean $1 Fried Fish Parts at the Golden M anyway; it's clearly a sign.
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Fried Food: Another one that is too specific to remember. Sure, you'll skip the fries and onion rings, and you'll remember that Popeye's and KFC are verboten until after Easter Vigil, but then you sit down to a burger and it's got those onions on top, or you've munched on the orange chicken at Panda Express, or you're eating a bento box and are halfway down the tempura shrimp when you mutter a most un-Christian oath.
Dessert: The most common Lenten sacrifice, but birthdays still happen during Lent, and special occasions, which cause dessert amnesia. Besides, where do you draw the line? If you go out to dinner and the restaurant comps you a tiramisù, do you offend God by eating it, or do you offend the chef by refusing? What about fortune cookies? Or breath mints? Does Ethiopian kitfo count (it isn't sweet, but it is the last course)?