Cheese, Glorious Cheese (In Which I Torture Myself Ever-So-Slightly)

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.




Yes I “Can” (In Which I Fear the Wrath of Greenpeace)

Twice in as many days, I have been surprised and mildly frustrated by the unavailability of recycling receptacles at “green” grocery stores. Last Monday, I failed to find one at Whole Foods (until I was checking out).

Where Were You?

And the next day, there were none to be found anywhere at my friendly neighborhood Trader Joe’s. Sometimes I have a Diet Coke or La Croix (fizzy water) with me when I run errands. One single can.

It’s not a big deal, of course, but in my addled brain where perception is reality, it becomes a tough decision of what kind of judgment I want to be saddled with.

My first option is to simply toss my six inches of aluminum into the first trash can I see, which would of course mean I hate the earth and America and babies and kittens. God forbid anyone ever say anything to me about it; I wouldn’t have a leg to stand on.

Option two is awkwardly wielding my work bag, the empty can, and my grocery cart or basket. I chose this path at Whole Foods (until I checked out and saw a proper dumping ground).  At Trader Joe’s, I attempted more of the same until finally giving up and resorting to – gasp – a trash can.

Mind you, I recycle at home and I try to conserve when possible (and I fully intend to brake for animals…) but saving one can from one landfill isn’t actually a huge priority to me personally. If it were, I’d probably never drink canned beverages in the first place (though they stay sooo cold and taste sooo good).  Nope, it’s more about my fear of being judged that, yet again, puts me in an awkward situation. As if anyone is even paying attention… and if they were, they’d be more distracted by the fact that I’m listening to Kelly Clarkson at deafening levels.