LIFE LATELY | Meatless, Day 26.

LIFE LATELY | Meatless, Day 26.

I was raised Catholic. I was heavily influenced by my devout Catholic mother, who prays the rosary everyday and goes to mass twice a week. She pulled me out of a protestant preschool and lived out the rest of my formative years in an exclusive all girls Catholic school. There were days when we attended two masses in a span of a school day — a class mass and a first friday mass at the school patio. During October, I distinctly remember I had to pray the rosary 3 times — once during the beginning of the school day in class, one with the rest of the school at the after lunch assembly, and once at home, with the family. I think all these indoctrination led me to a more lenient, quite averted relationship with my family’s organized religion of choice. If you had to put me in a category now, I would be called a cafeteria Catholic. These days, I pick and choose what I want to follow. But years of sctrict piousness do take a toll on you. Admittedly, the catholic guilt is strong on this one. So I pick my own penance as well. During lent, I give up my most loved and what people most associate with me when it comes to my culinary tastes. I go meatless.

Some three years ago, I have managed to go meatless for two lents running. When I entered daily work at TF HQ, with lent falling on a very high stressful season and with limited eating out options near work, I gave up the sacrifice. I needed to stress eat and meat is my comfort food.

This year, I decided to be back at it again. The decision was made on Ash Wednesday, and I went in cold turkey. I wasn’t really planning on it so there’s about a half kilo of bagnet sitting on my freezer right now, which if I had known I’m giving up meat for 40 days I wouldn’t have bought. It’s unexpectedly easier this year compared to the struggle the years past — perhaps because of maturity, or maybe because it’s also doing me more good than harm ridding my diet of meat for a while. These days, instead of flipping the menu and zoning on the meatiest, porkiest thing on the menu, I skim through the appetizers and entrees more carefully. I have become one of those persons who asks if there’s meat in that item. The carnivore in me would like to immediately be on the defensive side and say “No, I’m not vegetarian, it’s just lent”, but it’s kinda pointless. I guess it teaches me to be mindful, more conscious of what I put in my mouth, which is not a bad thing.

Also, Jr is taking it very well this year. Whereas before when he gets frustrated because we can’t eat out anywhere because of my dietary “flagellation”, this year, he welcomes the meat break. Although I tell him I won’t mind if he eats meat in front of me, he chooses to empathize. Almost 4 weeks in and I have touched one bite of beef, pork and chicken — which is amazing considering I am now faced with pork barbecue and delicious prepared meals at my new work every damn day. And gasp! I don’t miss it.

Or maybe I miss one thing. I miss home cooked, heavily breaded deep fried chicken. 14 days to go.


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Jollibee Tuna Pie | Lent is Coming.

Jollibee Tuna Pie | Lent is Coming.

 

Most times, I don’t know what day it is. And I’m not talking about the “A Map of Saturday” romantic kind of not knowing. It’s the clueless, ‘really, it’s that day already?!?’ kind of deal. If I’m lucky, I know what day it is in the week, but unless I glance over that calendar icon on my laptop or my phone, or facebook tells me it’s somebody’s birthday today, I’d never know where we are in the month.

At least, I have facebook. I know it’s Christmas when I see Noche Buena and annual family portraits in front of a Christmas tree posts. I know it’s the new year when I see fireworks, or “new year, new me” posts. Or, like in the eve leading to 2015 posts, wine in wine glasses, because my friends are aging. I am grateful for facebook. Also, in that line, facebook lets you know Lent is coming when…

One, people start giving up something.

Rice is the most usual casualty. However, it’s also makes people highly doubtful whether it’s really due for sacrifice or for weightloss. Some people give up facebook… but not before announcing it on Facebook. That one baffles me, but to each his own.

For three years in a row, I tried abstaining from meat for 39 days. And you know how much I love meat. Third day is usually a hump day, but after that, I breeze thru the rest of Lent. The husband, however, for 3 years was having trouble dealing with it. We love eating out, but it’s not his idea of a fun time come Lenten Season. We have nowhere to eat and if we do find some place where I can order something, the first 3 minutes of the meal is spent me picking off bits of meat in a supposedly meatless dish. Palaboks are particularly traydors.

At Easter, being raised Catholic, I look forward to Christ rising again, and eventually, I’m not gonna lie, eating meat. It would be a shock if I had not literally dreamed of meat before Palm Sunday. My body usually gets its first dose of meat Easter lunch and one time, since my body was not used to digesting meat for the last 6 weeks, it revolted come Easter night. Served me right for trying to eat chicharon bulaklak, inihaw na liempo and sinigang na baboy in one sitting. When it comes to food, sometimes, I get a little too carried away.

And/or,  Tuna pie!

I love everything on the Jollibee’s poptart-on-steriods range. Peach mango pie is on regular rotation. There’s a Jollibee branch where my bus stops and I get my final jeepney ride on.  Whenever I had a long day, I casually drop in and the ever-shrinking Peach Mango pie is waiting for me piping hot off the counter, ready to comfort me and tell me ‘there, there… it’s okay now’.

I loved it when they released a choco mallow version. But my favorite was the banana langka pie, which I don’t know why they pulled off their menu. It’s the Philippines. I’m sure all those peaches were canned, but we have bananas and jackfruit everywhere. Who do I need to talk to to convince them to resurrect that “turon but better” pie? I am going to write a letter — or start a petition on Change.org. I invite you to join my worthwhile cause.

Then, there’s always one day in the year that suddenly you start seeing Tuna Pie popping up on your facebook feed. Of course, the first thing that goes thru and blows your mind is, “Meron na ulit tuna pie?!?”. Of course, this also means every other restaurant now have their Lenten offerings out. Lent is upon us. But we still need to eat.

Jollibee’s tuna pie to me is like McDonald’s twister fries is to other people. I get irrationally excited about it. I know it’s just canned meat in fried pastry. Just like I don’t understand why people get off from a differently shaped fries. But I have to have it. And I make sure I infect everybody with my eagerness and get them to be irrationally excited about it too just to validate my feelings — that the tuna pie is amazeballs.

…I am just going to ignore my suspicions if there’s actual tuna there. Cheese, yes. Tuna, meh. But yes, tuna pie, please continue to lie to me.

 

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