Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Another Friday Down

The World, or at least (515) Famous Waveland Cafe,  photo by Jeno Berta

Greetings All:

As I mentioned a few posts back, it's Lent.  That time when those of us who are Catholic, including those poorly practicing ones like myself, abstain from meat during the Fridays until Easter.

On a recent Friday, I happen to find myself in the capitol of the Hawkeye State, Des Moines.  The reason for this trip west is that my eldest daughter qualified for an choir event and the whole family went along for the ride.

I love road trips, especially short hops like this.  However, the only challenge with these is that dietary issues kick in, like on this particular Friday.  I don't eat what one would call a "plant-centric" diet and therefore, I had to make a deliberate effort not to eat meat.  This was made more challenging by hitting some of the "destination dining" places in Des Moines, including The Waveland Cafe and Fong's Pizza.

I try to make it as far as possible into Lent without succumbing to the temptation of being a carnivore on Fridays.  Alas, like many a #5 or #6 seed in the NCAAs, I get knocked out.  This year I got a first round bye as I obtained dispensation from my Priest for dinner on March 7th.  The most recent Friday almost went into overtime.

One may wonder why I do this if I am not aggressively practicing my faith.  I might ask myself the same question.  But first, a bit on the history of the meatless Fridays.

There is a school of thought that this came about when the Pope threw a (fish) bone to the Italian fishing lobby by decreeing no meat on Fridays.  From the article I found below, that is an urban (or should I say, "Holy See") legend.  However, some of the supposed rationales behind the rule are interesting.  Here's a link to the story if you're curious:


Then there is a more parochial reason for abstaining from meat on Friday.  Christ was, after all, crucified on a Friday.   Here's a great blog post on the subject from a Father Zuhlsdorf for more information:


Food and food restrictions are not limited to Catholics.  In fact, the other two major monolithic religions of the world, Islam and Judaism, have rules on what one can eat and when.  I took the photo of Maccabee's Deli" as we walked out of the Waveland.  If we would have had more time in town, I would have gone back for a pastrami sandwich.  I just would have known not to ask for cheddar cheese with it, as that's not kosher and this is clearly a kosher place.

Maccabee's Deli Photo by Jeno Berta

Then there are those who decline certain foods not for any religious reason.  There's the scene from Pulp Fiction where Jules tells Vincent, "I don't dig on swine," (or words to that effect.)  For those of you who are students of the modern classics, here's a link to the You Tube posting of that scene, public domain claimed:


Vincent and Jules having the discussion on breakfast meats, photo credit, Miramax Films, Fair Use/Public Domain claimed, http://www.miramax.com/movie/pulp-fiction

The day went pretty well, even without meat.  I had breakfast of pancakes at The Waveland and for good measure finished off Dawn's cheese hash browns.  I may have abstained from meat but it was no sacrificial meal.

Then lunch, at Fong's Pizza.  I love pizza, pepperoni pizza, to be precise,  Is there Italian sausage, sure, throw it on there.

Fong's Pizza in Des Moines.  Photo by Jeno Berta

I skipped the Pepperoni but did get a great t-shirt.  Photo by Dawn Berta

I decided that I had to keep the streak going.  I got cheese pizza.  It was great.  The streak is intact.

I asked the rhetorical question (I think that is what it is called): why follow this rule if I am not that devout a Catholic?  This post is already w-a-y too long to get into a deep theological discussion, so let me simply say this:  For me, it is a way to engage in a bit of voluntary self-denial, a way to remind myself just what a life of ease and comfort I can live.  For whatever reason, I remember watching my friend Eric participate in a Lincoln-Douglas Debate in high school in 1986.  I remember him quoting a statistic of how fifty Asian-Indians consume the same about of energy as one American.  Although that number may have narrowed some, the point is we as Americans have it really good.  I don't think that is something we should be ashamed of.  However, just speaking for me, I think it is good to engage in some self-denial.  If nothing else, it's a good reminder of just what a life of Reilly I am fortunate enough to live.  Who knows, it might even have a spiritual effect? 

So another Friday is down for Lent.  I'll see how I keep doing.  In the meantime, I am looking forward to my next trip to Des Moines and Fong's Pizza, hopefully not during Lent.

Be well my friends,

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