Monday, March 10, 2008

Food and drugs

First, the drugs: AP Probe Finds Drugs in Drinking Water.

Now, the food:

I broke my Lenten fast today for a chai. It was a sugar-free chai, but caffeine is also on the list. Alas, daylight savings time went into effect this weekend and I almost fell asleep before even arriving at work. (I was on the bus, so I endangered no lives.) So I gave myself a special dispensation to drink tea.

I don't believe the breaking a fast is a sin, so I am not consumed by guilt. The reason for giving up sugar and caffeine for Lent was that I depend on them to improve my outlook when I am feeling sorry for myself and thinking that the world is unfair to me. For Lent, I thought it might be good to find a new way of dealing with self-pity; perhaps, for example, by not indulging in it in the first place.

This has been a surprisingly successful experiment. Although I am not sure this particular form of abstinence will last past Lent. The German Agricultural Board sent my workplace a box of packaged pastries, brandy-filled chocolates and chocolate-coated cookies. I pocketed four of the brandy-filled chocolates and stowed them away in my bottom desk drawer for after Easter. Since I'm not fasting from alcohol during Lent, I could go ahead and suck out the brandy, saving the chocolate for later, but alcohol is not one of my weaknesses, so there is nothing compelling me to do that.

(I will mention here that, whenever I see liquor-filled chocolates, I think of that scene from Empire of the Sun where a pre-adolescent Christian Bale -- who should have received an Oscar for that performance, and I intend to tell him so as soon as I meet him -- finds a box of brandied chocolates in his parents' abandoned and food-strapped mansion.)

My break-fast produced a little illustration on temptation that I should probably present to my Sunday school students. As I explained, I decided to drink tea this morning so that I could stay awake for work. This is an example of trying to decide between the lesser of two evils: breaking a promise to oneself, or violating the part of the unwritten contract with one's employer that says one will be awake during work.

I thought I was pretty safe in deciding to drink just one chai. But, as I walked into the break room for hot water, I passed that pile of goodies from the German Agricultural Board. And I grabbed a dark-chocolate-coated cookie and began to eat it. Why not, I thought, since I was breaking my fast, anyway?

And, since I'd already broken my fast twofold, I went for another dark-chocolate-coated cookie on my way out of the break room. It was a different variety, of course, since novel mischief is the funnest kind.


You would think that would be enough said about food, but it is not. On Saturday, I made a fancy dinner because I had been the loser in a game of putt-putt (aka miniature golf), and the wager had been that the loser would cook dinner for the winner.

I'm a grazer, so when I cook for myself, I don't usually make a full meal -- because I don't usually eat a full meal. I also usually base whatever I cook on whatever I have around the house or in the garden. I rarely use recipes, except as inspiration.

Saturday's dinner was a new experience. I not only used recipes for everything; I followed them. I have never bought so many non-staples at the grocery store.

Here is the menu:

- Baked Chevre with Roasted Garlic and Rosemary, served with Sourdough Baguette and Assorted Olives
- Chicken with Saffron, Almond and Raisin Rice
- Green Beans with Prosciutto, Porcini and Portabellos
- Honey-Glazed Baby Carrots
- Cheese Desert Course of Iberico, St. Felix, and Dubliner cheeses with Red Bosc Pear, Cara Cara Orange, Blood Orange, Pink Lady Apple, and Honey-Sweetened Dried Cranberries
- Izzy Sparkling Pomegranate Juice with San Pellegrino Water
- New Glarus Belgian Red Cherry Ale

Yes, we probably could have dined at L'Etoile for about the same price, but it wouldn't have been nearly as fun and I wouldn't have a week's worth of leftovers.

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