The Great (Armenian) Lent: Dining Out and Deconstructing the Garden of Eden
This is the second part in a series on the Lenten Journey, a 40 day fasting period before Easter observed by several Christian denominations, including the Armenian Apostolic Church. See the first part here.
Another week of the Great Lent has passed, leaving it’s trials and tribulations for me in its wake.
One of the big changes since last week has been that I’ve been going out more often with my friends for lunch and dinner, presenting some challenges when it comes to sticking to a vegan diet. Nobody wants to be “that guy” when they go to a restaurant and ask the staff a billion questions like “Is it cooked in any animal broth?” or “Does the dough have a egg or butter in it?” or“Can you make it without cheese?”
So it’s helpful to do your research beforehand if you know where you’re going out, but really, most nights are a gamble. One has to be in a constant state of vigilance when going out to eat, a healthy paranoia if you will.
A friend and I went out to dinner at an Indian restaurant, where I knew they would have vegetarian dishes but once I looked at the menu, many of these meals had yogurt or cheese in them, cutting down my options to only a handful of dishes. The same can be said of my experience in Boston’s Chinatown where I had lunch at a dumpling house. Naturally I had my eye on the pork dumplings but opted for the vegetarian ones, if not for that I would have had a tofu dish. As a naturally indecisive person, a double-edged sword presents itself – I have less options to choose from, making my choices easier to make but at the expense of abstaining from delicious meats and cheeses.
Even within this limited supply of foodstuffs, I’ve discovered an amazing diversity in just this small section of the food pyramid. I already knew about tofu and veggie burgers but products like non-dairy ice cream, rice and almond milk, non-dairy cheese, a large range of lentils and beans and all the other innovative ways of providing a hearty and nutritious meal. Before I started this vegan diet, words like quinoa were foreign to me, but now they are words with taste to match. The latest meal I cooked up was a soup called Blor, which has spinach, onion and tomato with balls of bulgur and oatmeal cooked with it. Some of the balls broke apart while boiling so the soup became more of a porridge when you got to the bottom but it was delicious nonetheless. If you have any Lenten or vegan recipes you’d like to share, please post them, I’d love to try them out.
Now, on the theological side of things not too much is happening, though hopefully this will change as the weeks go by. With regards to the Bible readings, I’m honestly at a loss, a lot of it has gone over my head. However, I think I got something with the Sunday of the Expulsion which marks the second week of Lent, and refers to Adam and Eve being expelled from Paradise. Adam and Eve were given so much in the Garden of Eden but they overstepped their bounds when Eve ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. For the purposes of making applicable to my own life, I like to think of it in terms of entitlement, something quite relevant to some people today.
Entering the post-college world and presented with a sour outlook for employment, me and many other colleagues of mine have found ourselves back in our childhood bedrooms. Not everyone is happy with the accommodations but even though I may complain I’m back home I’m thankful that I don’t have to pay rent, there’s a abundant amount of food in the house and being an only child in an affluent suburb, we were able to avoid the massive student debt so many face. Even so, it can be incredibly frustrating to live with your parents in a time where you’re expected, at least in theory, to be independent. Throughout all the nagging to clean up your room or emptying the dishwasher and dryer, I realized that I get a hell of a lot more in return. More than anything, I should be thankful for all the support so next time I’ll give a less snappy response to my job prospects or not drag my feet when I take out the trash.