21 February 2010
Lenten Fare is My Favorite
Growing up in the Craftsman bungalow on Main Street, I fell in love with shrimp and seafood in general. Cooked shrimp in a cold salad with eggs and peas, or French-fried shrimp at area supper clubs when my father took a busman's holiday to see what the competition was doing. We kids went along, and I always ordered shrimp.
It was a Friday night dish in Lent. At Friday noon, my brother Rob and I would walk the four short blocks home from Holy Savior School for fish sticks and french fries, or salmon and mashed potatoes, almost always served with peas, but sometimes creamed corn. Then we'd bundle up again and head back to school, walking atop the snow banks on Main Street.
If we were lucky, my parents would have a hankering for shrimp or lobster or even clam chowder on Friday night. The sea food festival in our kitchen made Lent worthwhile. Giving up candy was no problem.
The period from Valentine's Day to Easter is one I remember well. Even as a child, I detected a subtle change in the light outside after mid-February, and I felt the waning of winter. On mild Saturdays I'd head downtown to the public library and the melting snow would run across the sidewalk in dark little rivulets. Downtown was about a mile from our neighborhood, and by the time I got home late in the afternoon, loaded down with books, it was chilly again and I was happy to come into the warmth. Saturday night dinners were often baked beans or grilled cheese sandwiches, and evenings were spent in my room, curled up with my treasure trove of new books.
I often yearn for those simple meals and those simpler days, especially when life gets harried and stressful. I've never been a big meat eater, and simple, slightly offbeat meals have become my specialty.