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Lenten and Good Friday foods


Rinsewind
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For those of you who follow (or at least did at some point in your life) the restrictions against meat on Fridays in Lent (still practiced in the US Catholic Church), do you have a special meal for those days? How about Good Friday traditions?

I come from a family where my parents didn't do much cooking, so lenten Fridays always meant cheese pizza. Good Friday meant mass then Easter egg coloring, with egg salad for dinner. I usually make fish for my own children (something mild like tilapia, cod, or whitefish) on lenten Fridays, but the egg salad has to wait until Saturday since I always have to work on Good Friday now.

Any traditions out there? Anyone actually get hot cross buns on Good Friday?

*edited for clarity

Edited by Rinsewind (log)

"An' I expect you don't even know that we happen to produce some partic'ly fine wines, our Chardonnays bein' 'specially worthy of attention and compet'tively priced, not to mention the rich, firmly structur'd Rusted Dunny Valley Semillons, which are a tangily refreshin' discovery for the connesewer ...yew bastard?"

"Jolly good, I'll have a pint of Chardonnay, please."

Rincewind and Bartender, The Last Continent by Terry Pratchett

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This is a hot button topic in our mixed-marriage home--so much so that it will make me de-lurk!

I was raised MS Lutheran, so other than fasting on Good Friday, we had no real restictions during lent. And yes, my mom would bake hot cross buns, some without citron for me.

My husband was raised Roman Catholic, and followed the whole restriction regimen during lent.

When we married I "crossed over" to Catholicism, mostly because being a Lutheran, I had no major theological issues that were deal breakers in the course of my worship life, and hey, God knows my heart better than anyone. Also the area in which we live (outside Philadelphia) has got to be the most homogeneous area in which I have ever lived (grew up in NY), and I felt it was better for my children to be raised in the Catholic church where their peers went to build a sense of church as a community.

Back on topic: Lent arrives and the discussion begins in our home. I strongly believe there is a huge gap between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. A salmon steak on Friday is not doing without. In fact, pound for pound, seafood is pricier than most meats. I also frankly prefer fish, and seafood of any kind, to meat. My opinion is that making Hamburger Helper (sorry, Sandy!) is more in keeping with the point of abstinance. For the past few years, I have been opting to make fishsticks, tuna casserole and the like during lent.

This year I have come up with, I think, the solution. Each Friday in Lent our (meatless) meal will come from a region of the world where people have less, hopefully acting as a starting point for dinnertime discussion of how we can perhaps be an instrument of change in the world. Tonight for instance we will be "travelling" to Guatamala, a country we have in fact been to, and have seen how poverty and civil unrest have affected her people.

A long post, I realize, but I am hoping that maybe this is a tradition worth spreading around, beyond one's religious beliefs or a period on a calendar.

You want frites with that?
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My dad was non-practicing catholic, and mom's from england, and we never skip the hot cross buns! every good friday, with coffee. she usually makes them for all of us, although we do have a great bakery that does a nice job with them.

as for the meat, we did have a meatless good friday, but not the entire lent season.

---------------------------------------

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^Good point, regarding following the spirit of the law, although I also think that one aspect of marking the Friday's is remembrance. Occasionally I have a work-related dinner on a Lenten Friday and end up eating a much 'fancier' seafood dish. I like your idea of choosing humble meatless meals from around the world as a source of inspiration for dinner. Essentially that is how we typically ate on Lenten Fridays although the traditions happened to be related to our own ethnic roots.

Our home Friday lenten meals were pretty simple growing up. They were mainly egg and dairy dishes from Austria which my Mom was familiar with. An example would be "Palatschinken" or Austrian/Hungarian crepes filled with jam or with a mixture of farmer's cheese, sugar and cinnamon. We'd usually have some canned mandarins or pineapple with it. Another dish that we might have with the fruit is "Kaiserschmarren" or 'Emperor's Omelette" which is sort of sweet souffle-pancake with raisins that is torn up into pieces which are slightly browned in the pan and then served with powdered sugar. Yet another meal would be potato pancakes served with sour cream and applesauce. Salmon cakes (made with canned salmon) and served with rice and peas or tuna or crab salad sandwiches served with tomato soup. Oh yeah, and I think we sometimes had fishsticks too with tartar sauce!

Nowadays I sometimes make these childhood dishes but I'll more likely make a white bean and tunafish salad, a vegetarian pasta or risotto, a cheese and vegetable omelette with a salad. cheese quesadilla or a bean and cheese burritto with greens.

We didn't have hot cross buns as I don't think my Mom was familiar with that custom. I think it may be a more recent custom, but I know some Catholics and churches are increasingly celebrating Passover Seder dinners on Holy Thursday.

Edited by ludja (log)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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I'm not Catholic, but the area I live in is predominantly so.  This means fish fries at every church on Lenten Fridays, which I love.  Fried fish, haluski or coleslaw, maybe some pierogi... mmmm.

I hear this is a big tradtion in Wisconsin also; maybe all around the Great Lakes?

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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Woudn't the Jewish brunch favorite of lox and bagels fit the bill here?

Absolutely, I believe any Kosher "Dairy Meal" would work well since the only Lenten restriction is meat; fish, dairy and eggs are fine.

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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And on a related note, Jewish person who looks forward to this time of the year because I LOVE hot cross buns for breakfast or snack!

Plus, markets have better selection of seafood as "Lenten specials".

"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast" - Oscar Wilde

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This year I have come up with, I think, the solution.  Each Friday in Lent our (meatless) meal will come from a region of the world where people have less, hopefully acting as a starting point for dinnertime discussion of how we can perhaps be an instrument of change in the world.  Tonight for instance we will be "travelling" to Guatamala, a country we have in fact been to, and have seen how poverty and civil unrest have affected her people.

A long post, I realize, but I am hoping that maybe this is a tradition worth spreading around, beyond one's religious beliefs or a period on a calendar.

A very interesting idea! I understand your point about salmon steaks. I have been doing some reading on this, and I know the rules about what constitute a "meatless" day were developed in the Middle Ages, when fish was not a high prestige food (a sweeping generalization, I know, not applicable in every case). Thus a meatless day with fish was considered a deprivation, and lent meant 40 meatless days, some with no dairy as well. Fish, at the moment, unless you're the humble catfish or a fish stick, is now a fairly high prestige food, given the price.

Your new tradition does seem closer to the spirit of the law, rather than the letter of the law.

Thanks!

Rinsewind

"An' I expect you don't even know that we happen to produce some partic'ly fine wines, our Chardonnays bein' 'specially worthy of attention and compet'tively priced, not to mention the rich, firmly structur'd Rusted Dunny Valley Semillons, which are a tangily refreshin' discovery for the connesewer ...yew bastard?"

"Jolly good, I'll have a pint of Chardonnay, please."

Rincewind and Bartender, The Last Continent by Terry Pratchett

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I'm not Catholic, but the area I live in is predominantly so.  This means fish fries at every church on Lenten Fridays, which I love.  Fried fish, haluski or coleslaw, maybe some pierogi... mmmm.

I hear this is a big tradtion in Wisconsin also; maybe all around the Great Lakes?

Yep, I grew up in Michigan (there were a lot of Catholics) and the Friday fish fry was certainly a church tradition! Unfortunatly, my family was particularly limited in what was considered acceptable food, and as my mom loathed all fish, we didn't participate. More's the pity!

I am happy to report that, at age 40, I now enjoy nearly all kinds of seafood! My kids are more limited, but they will eat mild fish and occasionally salmon or a shrimp.

On an ironic note, I was just at a conference this past week and on Ash Wednesday my fellow attendees decided to go to a steak house for dinner. *sigh*

-Rinsewind

"An' I expect you don't even know that we happen to produce some partic'ly fine wines, our Chardonnays bein' 'specially worthy of attention and compet'tively priced, not to mention the rich, firmly structur'd Rusted Dunny Valley Semillons, which are a tangily refreshin' discovery for the connesewer ...yew bastard?"

"Jolly good, I'll have a pint of Chardonnay, please."

Rincewind and Bartender, The Last Continent by Terry Pratchett

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Our mother was Catholic, but we were raised Protestant (Dad wouldn't sign the papers). I used to argue with my mother that fish was meat, to no avail. We were forced to keep meatless Fridays during lent, which usually meant fish or mac and cheese. My favorite Friday Lenten meal was DeeDum Ditty, a Welch Rarebid Americanization with cheddar cheese, milk, green peppers worchestershire and tobasco sauce, melted in a double boiler and served on toast.

Saturday mornings were memorable during Lent. My grandfather and his pals always got together to snack, drink beer, talk politics and religion and smoke lots of cigarettes. During Lent they would eat special sausages (bockwurst and weisswurst), stinky cheese like Lindberger and drink Bock beer. It was also Shad Roe season in the Hudson Valley which was a favorite of my father's. A taste I never aquired.

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I remember reading about pretzels as an old German/Austrian lenten food and found this article:

The Christians in the Roman Empire made a special dough consisting of flour, salt, and water only (since fat, eggs, and milk were forbidden). They shaped it in the form of two arms crossed in prayer, to remind them that Lent was a season of penance and devotion. They called these breads "little arms" (bracellae). From the Latin word the Germans later coined the term "brezel" or "prezel," from which comes our word "pretzel."

All through medieval times and into the present, pretzels remained an item of Lenten food in many parts of Europe. In Germany, Austria, Poland, they made their and annual appearance on Ash Wednesday; special vendors (Brezelmann) sold them on the streets of cities and towns. People would eat them for lunch, together with a stein of their mild, home-brew beer. In Poland they were eaten in beer soup.

In the cities pretzels were distributed to the poor on many days during Lent. In parts of Austria, children wore them suspended from the palm bushes on Palm Sunday. With the end of Lent the pretzels disappeared again until the following Ash Wednesday. It was only during the last century that this German (actually, ancient Roman) bread was adopted as an all-year tidbit, and its Lenten significance all but forgotten.

link

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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I remember reading about pretzels as an old German/Austrian lenten food *snip*

Interesting, Ludja. I remember hearing that pretzels were given as a reward for schoolboys learning their prayers in Germany, but a quick websearch turns up numerous references to pretzels as a lenten food-- the first reference in the Vatican library to pretzels is from the 5th century! Thanks for the reference. Sounds like it's time to make some pretzels. Simple soups seem to come up frequently as well when searching for lenten foods, as well as the usual fish dishes and meatless pasta.

Sounds like there were more options out there than the cheese pizza we always ate! Although a good cheese pizza certainly can be tasty.

-Rinsewind

"An' I expect you don't even know that we happen to produce some partic'ly fine wines, our Chardonnays bein' 'specially worthy of attention and compet'tively priced, not to mention the rich, firmly structur'd Rusted Dunny Valley Semillons, which are a tangily refreshin' discovery for the connesewer ...yew bastard?"

"Jolly good, I'll have a pint of Chardonnay, please."

Rincewind and Bartender, The Last Continent by Terry Pratchett

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Back on topic:  Lent arrives and the discussion begins in our home.  I strongly believe there is a huge gap between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. A salmon steak on Friday is not doing without.  In fact, pound for pound, seafood is pricier than most meats.  I also frankly prefer fish, and seafood of any kind, to meat.  My opinion is that making Hamburger Helper (sorry, Sandy!) is more in keeping with the point of abstinance.  For the past few years, I have been opting to make fishsticks, tuna casserole and the like during lent.

This year I have come up with, I think, the solution.  Each Friday in Lent our (meatless) meal will come from a region of the world where people have less, hopefully acting as a starting point for dinnertime discussion of how we can perhaps be an instrument of change in the world.  Tonight for instance we will be "travelling" to Guatamala, a country we have in fact been to, and have seen how poverty and civil unrest have affected her people.

A long post, I realize, but I am hoping that maybe this is a tradition worth spreading around, beyond one's religious beliefs or a period on a calendar.

I brought up your idea today in religion class with my 11-year olds and they loved the idea. Next week I am going to give them a recipe for beans and rice that they can help make at home; and even the Rel Ed director thought it was an inspired idea that she will work to incorporate into next year's curriculum and help us with getting it off the ground for the remaining weeks of Lent. This is completely off topic, but I went a little further on the topic of "giving up something for Lent" and told them their assignment was to do something nice for someone, without them asking and they are not allowed to tell why they are doing it; we will talk about it in class next week so they have somewhere to share their accomplishment. Maybe by the end of Lent, it won't be so much assignment as force of habit.

Thanks!

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For us it was either fish (normally fried flounder) or Ukie food (pyrohy or holubtsi with kasha) As an added bonus on the first day of Lent and Good Friday no dairy was permitted either. This pretty much left me with tuna (no mayo) and rye bread.

Now that I am grown up I don't do the no dairy thing but I still make fried flounder on Friday's during Lent.

Get your bitch ass back in the kitchen and make me some pie!!!

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I come from a non practicing catholic family. Of course, most latin americans are catholic, and a lot of us really don't practice. However, fanesca was a good reason to follow tradition during "Holy Week"

Basically a braised salt cod dish featuring 12 different types of lentils, beans and other grains. Soooooo good

Now, that 12 is just the "base" number, representing the 12 disciples of Jesus. However, if I remember correctly, there were over 30 grains to choose from in the markets when this time of the year came close. It would be no surprise to find a recipe wih over those 12 grains.

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It would seem that the idea of self-denial takes different shapes at different times in history.

Here's a menu from a sixteenth century Tudor cookbook (Good Huswifes Jewell):

Service for Lenten Fish Days

Butter. A sallet with hard eggs. Pottage of sand eels and lampreys. Red herring, green broiled, strewn upon (with spices or sauce). White herring. Ling. Harbourdine.  Sauce, mustard. Salt. Salmon minced. Sauce, mustard and verjuice, and a little sugar. Powdered Conger. Shad. Mackerel. Sauce Vinegar. Whiting: Sauce, with the liver and mustard. Plaice: Sauce, sorrel, or wine, and salt, or mustard, or verjuice. Thornback: Sauce, liver and mustard, pepper and salt strewn upon, after it is bruised. Fresh cod: Sauce, green sauce. Dace. Mullet. Eels upon sops. Roach upon sops. Perch. Pike in pike sauce. Trout upon sops. Lench in jelly or greslle. Custard.

And that is only the first course. The second course includes such delicacies as Roasted Porpoise, and has many more things upon Sops. Thank goodness it finishes up nicely with

Tart, Figs, Apples, Almonds blanced, Cheese, Raisins, Pears.

That way you can clear your palate to suffer through dessert.

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...

However, fanesca was a good reason to follow tradition during "Holy Week"

Basically a braised salt cod dish featuring 12 different types of lentils, beans and other grains. Soooooo good

Now, that 12 is just the "base" number, representing the 12 disciples of Jesus. However, if I remember correctly, there were over 30 grains to choose from in the markets when this time of the year came close. It would be no surprise to find a recipe wih over those 12 grains.

This sounds delicious as do the garnishes of fried plantains and hard boiled eggs mentioned in the link.

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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I found another interesting older Lenten tradition that I was not familiar with that falls on "Rose or Laetare Sunday".

Here is a further description from Wikipedia: Rose Sunday It falls on the fourth Sunday of Lent; this year, March 18th.

Laetare Sunday, so called from the incipit of the Introit at Mass, "Laetare Jerusalem" ("O be joyful, Jerusalem"), is a name formerly often used, and less commonly used today, to denote the fourth Sunday of the season of Lent in the Christian liturgical calendar. This Sunday is also known as Mothering Sunday, Refreshment Sunday, Mid-Lent Sunday (in French mi-carême), and Rose Sunday, because the golden rose sent by the popes to Catholic sovereigns, used to be blessed at this time. The term "Laetare Sunday" is used predominantly, though not exclusively, by Roman Catholics.

This is also the Sunday when Roman Catholics are given a day's "reprieve" from things each gives up for Lent.

I found some more information here on a website which has extracts from a book written by Maria von Trapp in the mid-fifties. click The book is called "Around the Year" and is a book that celebates the customs and seasons of the Catholic Church's liturgical year including food-related traditions. The section referred to below is under the entry for February 20th.

Only recently I discovered that this Sunday used to be known as “Mothering Sunday.” This seems to go back to an ancient custom. People in every city would visit the cathedral, or mother church, inspired by a reference in the Epistle read on the Fourth Sunday of Lent: “That Jerusalem which is above, is free, which is our Mother.”

And there grew up, first in England, from where it spread over the continent, the idea that children who did not live at home visited their mothers that day and brought them a gift. This is, in fact, the precursor of our Mother’s Day. Expecting their visiting children, the mothers are said to have baked a special cake in which they used equal amounts of sugar and flour (two cups of each); from this came the name “Simmel Cake,” derived from the Latin word similis, meaning “like” or “same.”

The link gives a recipe for Simmel Cake. This version is a butter cake flavored with lemon and orange zest and currants and filled with a layer of layer of almond paste and covered with an almond flavored icing.

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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I found some more information here on a website which has extracts from a book written by Maria von Trapp in the mid-fifties. click   The book is called "Around the Year" and is a book that celebates the customs and seasons of the Catholic Church's liturgical year including food-related traditions.  The section referred to below is under the entry for February 20th.

Only recently I discovered that this Sunday used to be known as “Mothering Sunday.” This seems to go back to an ancient custom. People in every city would visit the cathedral, or mother church, inspired by a reference in the Epistle read on the Fourth Sunday of Lent: “That Jerusalem which is above, is free, which is our Mother.”

And there grew up, first in England, from where it spread over the continent, the idea that children who did not live at home visited their mothers that day and brought them a gift. This is, in fact, the precursor of our Mother’s Day. Expecting their visiting children, the mothers are said to have baked a special cake in which they used equal amounts of sugar and flour (two cups of each); from this came the name “Simmel Cake,” derived from the Latin word similis, meaning “like” or “same.”

The link gives a recipe for Simmel Cake. This version is a butter cake flavored with lemon and orange zest and currants and filled with a layer of layer of almond paste and covered with an almond flavored icing.

That is a pretty creative version of the word, which is Simnel not Simmel. It derives from the Latin word for 'find flour' and was more usually made (or bought) by children as a gift for their mothers. In its commonest form it was a rich fruit cake, often with saffron, and often in a pastry crust, much like a pie, or the Scottish 'Black Bun'

Happy Feasting

Janet (a.k.a The Old Foodie)

My Blog "The Old Foodie" gives you a short food history story each weekday day, always with a historic recipe, and sometimes a historic menu.

My email address is: theoldfoodie@fastmail.fm

Anything is bearable if you can make a story out of it. N. Scott Momaday

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For a reasonably detailed explaination of the Roman Catholic church's rules about fasting and abstinance, try this artical from the Catholic Encyclopedia.

Catholic Encylclopedia-- Abstinence

In practice, local rules seem to vary widely, as each diocese can modify the rules to suit local conditions. I am still searching for a satisfactory explaination for why "viands" and not fish are unacceptable. My assumption is that it had to do with high and low status food, but I have also run across articles suggesting that the very fleshiness of "red" meat (meaning beef, pork, poultry, etc, modern notions of the "other white meat" notwithstanding...) was associated with lust and sinfulness.

Anyone have more information on this? And thanks to everyone for sharing your traditions!

-Rinsewind

"An' I expect you don't even know that we happen to produce some partic'ly fine wines, our Chardonnays bein' 'specially worthy of attention and compet'tively priced, not to mention the rich, firmly structur'd Rusted Dunny Valley Semillons, which are a tangily refreshin' discovery for the connesewer ...yew bastard?"

"Jolly good, I'll have a pint of Chardonnay, please."

Rincewind and Bartender, The Last Continent by Terry Pratchett

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I am still searching for a satisfactory explaination for why "viands" and not fish are unacceptable. My assumption is that it had to do with high and low status food, but I have also run across articles suggesting that the very fleshiness of "red" meat (meaning beef, pork, poultry, etc, modern notions of the "other white meat" notwithstanding...) was associated with lust and sinfulness.

Anyone have more information on this? And thanks to everyone for sharing your traditions!

-Rinsewind

The idea of 'fish' for fast days goes back to the Humoral Theory of the ancient Greeks, which underpinned all medical and dietetic ideas throughout the middle ages. The doctrine said that everthing in the natural universe was based on four elements - fire earth water and air, which had the characteristics of hot dry moist and cool. Hence everything - plants,animals,stones, man etc had varying degrees of each of these characteristics (affected by astrological conditions too) and disease or mood reflected these and could be modified by adding and subtracting. So - a person who had a disease characterised by an excess of 'cold and dry' - such as "Melancholy" would be advised to avoid food which also had those characteristics, such as ‘Gotes fleshe, Olde chese, and Greate fyshes of the see’ . Likewise, an excess of hot moist humour would be treated by removing some of this by bloodletting.

You are right, meat was thought to engender 'heat' which included such earthly things such as lust. At times such as Lent one was supposed to turn one's mind away from earthly things to the spiritual, so a cooling diet helped this - which is also why some religous orders were forbidden to eat meat at any time . Animals from the water were considered cooling - so these were the preferred, or regulated foods. Of course, whales and porpoise came from the water, so were also allowed - it was nothing to do with 'fish' as we think of it now. By a very imaginative (perhaps opportunistic) leap, some monastic orders allowed foetal rabbits as fast day food - as they had not left the watery environment of the mothers womb. Barnacle geese too were acceptable at one time as no-one had seen their nest, so it was believed that they did in fact arise from barnacle-like beginnings, hence were 'watery'.

Interesting, how these ideas evolve, isnt it?

Happy Feasting

Janet (a.k.a The Old Foodie)

My Blog "The Old Foodie" gives you a short food history story each weekday day, always with a historic recipe, and sometimes a historic menu.

My email address is: theoldfoodie@fastmail.fm

Anything is bearable if you can make a story out of it. N. Scott Momaday

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