Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the 40 days in Lent in the Christian calendar. I’m Episcopalian, which is kind of similar to Catholicism in some ways but wildly different in others. Sufficient to say, we are among the religions that observe Lent by “giving something up” and/or doing something to better oneself or one’s community.
I used to give up meat, but that was before I stopped eating all mammals entirely. Anyways, I always just found myself enjoying trying new vegetarian recipes … not really the point of the exercise. So last year I went on a 40-day cheese fast, which is harder than it seems. I’m talking cheese in all of its forms.
It was a bit of a struggle, which of course a Lenten discipline is supposed to be, so I’ve opted to do it again this year. And to remind myself just what I’ll be giving up, here are the top-five cheese-related items I will miss. Aside from just sharp cheddar and Triscuits, of course.
Blue cheese olives – Pretty much the best reason to drink a dirty martini. I had one last night at the top of the Hancock Building with friends who are moving away from Chicago in a few weeks. The olives contained within were my last official cheese before Lent.
Goldfish crackers – Yes, these count. Giving these up won’t be as hard this year because I’m no longer working at my old company, which stocked our snack drawers with these little guys. Just have to avoid them at the grocery store.
Hot and Spicy Cheez-Its – Every try these? They are aMAZing. If you don’t initially like from the first taste, try again. Trust me.
Any Mexican food – Since I don’t eat meat, cheese figures pretty heavily into any Tostadas or burritos that I might enjoy. Here’s to the “good fat” of avocado that is a close second favorite among topping choices. I must say, the timing of the Taco Bell taco with the Dorito shell is not ideal.
Baked Jalapeno Cheese Crunchies from Trader Joe’s – An almost-worthy substitute for Elmer’s Chee-Wees, which are only available in Southern Louisiana and don’t ship that well.