Keeping the Feast column: On Ash Wednesday,
The Holy Season of Lent is a time when folks may be looking for tasty, easy-to-prepare meatless meals. Over the years, The Monitor’s freelance writer Lois Rogers has created a library of meals in her Keeping The Feast column.
By Lois Rogers | Correspondent
In preparation for adding new Lenten recipes to Keeping the Feast every year, I review past columns which, including print and internet editions, go back 16 years. Doing so sheds a lot of light on ever-evolving culinary trends as well as how faith and food can work hand in hand to make the most of this important season.
Where the 2018 additions are concerned, a few things came to mind.
The first is that a new generation has come along since the first recipes appeared. So as Lent begins, it seemed like a good idea to include the basic requirements for new families just starting out with the observance:
Catholics between the ages of 18 and 59 are obliged to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. In addition, all Catholics 14 and older must abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and all the Fridays of Lent.
Fasting, as explained by the U.S. bishops, means partaking of only one full meal. Some food – not equaling another full meal – is permitted at breakfast and around midday or in the evening – depending on when a person chooses to eat the main meal. Abstinence forbids the use of meat, but not of eggs, milk products or condiments made of animal fat. It does not include meat juices and liquid foods made from meat. This being the case, such foods as chicken or beef broth, soups cooked or flavored with meat as well as seasonings or condiments made from animal fat are not forbidden.
Second, after watching this new generation chow down at numerous family and parish gatherings and socials, it’s clear their taste for a universal variety of spices, ingredients and textures brings a world of possibilities to the Lenten table. It seemed like a neat idea to incorporate this into the approach.
Third, always on the lookout for interesting food trends, I came across numerous recipes this year alone with ingredients that either hark back directly to Biblical times or reference saintly stories in some way.
All of these elements are blended into the recipe offered here for salmon and potato cakes. The use of parsley – though not in the Bible but generally accepted as one of the bitter herbs served by the Hebrews at the Passover – is a key ingredient as are bread crumbs, a deliberate reference to the ashes we receive this day.
I chose salmon – considered the “king of all fish” in Ireland – as a substitute for the traditional cod. Its inclusion brings to mind a favorite pious legend that St. Patrick, who brought Christianity to Ireland, gifted the salmon with the ability to leap higher than any other fish.
Grace during the weekdays of Lent
Lord Jesus Christ,
may our Lenten fasting turn us toward all our brothers and sisters
who are in need.
Bless this table, our good food and ourselves.
Send us through Lent with good cheer
And bring us to the fullness of your Passover.
From the book of Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers