Ash Wednesday Lent

Ash Wednesday Lent, I'm a Catholic: well not cradle Catholic-- I'm a convert. One thing I love about being Catholic is that we sure know how to celebrate life. Take Fat Tuesday (aka Mardi Gras): it's a huge Catholic lollapalooza before the solemnity of Ash Wednesday and Lent. All good Catholics, it seems gear up for the penitential season by overdoing it in the party season. I have my doubts about the wisdom of this.

Catholics put the "fat" in Fat Tuesday: Polish paczkis (sugary fat balls oozing glace), cholesterol-choked Andouille sausage po'boys (SF Eater) and New Orleans king cake (all the lenten no-nos in a frosting-topped pastry). Newsday shows how to make this heart attack jumpstarter, but I'll pass. Even if I wasn't heading into lent, this is way too much fiesta for me.

And don't even get me started on the pre-lent alcoholic binges. In Louisiana, Mardi Gras central, you can pick up a 46-ounce Fat Tuesday New Orleans Original Daquiri--at a drive-thru. I've had the Wedding Cake: it's not virginal. I could taste about 12 flavors of Arrow liquors blended in (I wasn't driving). I tried it once for the experience, but I'll pass on this booze-cruise as a pre-fast treat.

Keep in mind that all of these Fat Tuesday indulgences will be verboten (if you practice a legitimate lenten fast) the next day. I've come to the conclusion, after 20 years doing a legit lent, that all this "carnivale" feasting makes for a longer, more arduous fast. A bender during the Mardi Gras means a nasty Ash Wednesday hangover, especially if you start celebrating three or four weeks before Fat Tuesday like they do in New Orleans. And there are still forty days of lent to go.

I'm also rethinking the wisdom of taking Sundays off (the Church calls Sundays "mini-Easters" and says you can opt out of fasting for that day). Thanks, but no thanks. I may be a wimp, but I have to work up to meatless, sugar-free, fat-free living. It's farewell to the festival booyah blowouts for me.
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