Just ate my second Lenten meal…YAY Aladdin Cafe!!!

Someday (I hope), I will begin Lent with a plan. And a fully stocked pantry. I imagine planning out menus and writing out shopping lists. I imagine sitting down to every meal, balanced and nutritious, served at the appropriate times of day, calm and cool, with a clean kitchen at my back. I imagine choosing from an assortment of baked goods, or a bowl of fruit salad, chilling in the fridge, whenever I get the urge to snack. Hmmm, do I want the vegan chocolate cupcake with the tofu frosting, or the vegan apple pie, or the vegetable samosas I made this morning? Hmmm.

Of course, that is just about the exact opposite of what actually happens. Here’s what happened today…I woke up at 7:15 a.m., I realized that Joey would be working at Aladdin Cafe today and so I didn’t have to fix him lunch (let Diyana feed him, I said to myself). Then I hit the snooze button.  Fast forward to 8:00 a.m.. Maddy’s gotta leave at 8:18 a.m.. She needs breakfast and lunch. Lenten breakfast and lunch. OK. Breakfast – toast with jam, and a cup of tea. And for lunch? Drum roll please…toast with peanut butter and jam! Yep! Not even a different kind of jam. And by the way, I may as well admit it, I would have put peanut butter on her breakfast toast if I wasn’t planning on putting it in her lunch too. And what did I pack with the pb &j? Nothing. Not the best start ever, gotta say. But she was really gracious about the whole thing, which was pretty awesome.

After walking her to the bus, I went to my yoga class. Then shopping! At least I made a start. I agreed to go to a Barre 3 class with my friend, Louise, at noon, and she found me walking home from the store, on her way to pick me up.  We got to my house and I said, “can I grab something quick to eat?” I offered her something too. And so we both ate…toast with peanut butter and jam.

On the way home from the Barre 3 class, (I’m gonna be sore tomorrow), inspiration struck! “Drop me off at Aladdin’s!” I said to Louise. Diyana to the rescue! Joey was just finishing his shift, and I sat and visited with him and Isam and Diyana, while she fixed me a sweet little lunch – hummous, baba ghanoush, tabbouli and freekeh! (Freekeh is green wheat, prepared here like a pilaf. Yummy!) I also bought five loaves of Arabic bread so I’d have some for dinner! Let me tell you, it pays to live three blocks from an awesome Syrian restaurant filled with delicious, Lenten food!

Anyway, by dinner, I had things much more under control.

Imjudra and chicken

As you can see, I was able to provide a full meal for those of us observing the fast, and those of us who aren’t. There was baked chicken, imjudra with fried onions, hummous (from Aladdin!), roasted cabbage, raddichio and zucchini (on my plate), tomato and cucumber salad, and bread! The hardest part for me is the part about leaving the table feeling as if you could have eaten a little more.  I still haven’t done any baking, or organized myself in any meaningful way, but that’s ok. I got through the first day, fully nourished, and prepared to start again tomorrow.

“Lord, thank You for this first day. Thank You for the lessons, the grace and the help. Thank You for Maddy’s gracious attitude and Diyana’s cooking. And thank You for the time I spent sitting in the sun, watching Joey’s baseball game. I know that I am truly blessed, in many, many ways!”



About LeilaPiazza

I am a wife and mother. I am an Orthodox Christian. I am a Syrian American with family living in Syria. I am a also a yoga teacher and freelance writer. I recently described myself in a job pitch as "a person who's lived in Portland, Oregon for over 20 years with a passion for writing and a passion for all things Portland. I'm a foodie, knitter, wine and beer lover, bee-keeper (yep, I said it), mead and fruit-liqueur maker, organic gardener, home-canner, hiker, biker, runner, and occasional skinny-dipper. I’ve camped all over the state, I sail a sailboat that’s moored on the Columbia (o.k., I'm the first mate), and I spend a large percentage of my time at our beach house in Seaside." That about sums it up.
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