The Meat of the Matter

Ingredients for a simple and delicious meatless meal.

Ingredients for a simple and delicious meatless meal.

As a so-called cradle Catholic, I’ve always been puzzled at the concept of abstaining from meat on Fridays. When I was a child, we couldn’t eat meat any Friday of the year. At some point in the mid-60s I think, the Church rule changed to what it is today – abstaining from meat on Fridays in Lent only.

What’s always puzzled me is, why meat? Why not something else? Why not coffee, or meat and fish, or alcohol, or bubble gum. Well, maybe not bubble gum as I don’t think there was such a thing as bubble gum in the middle ages.  There is some thought that a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, the Catholic Church was trying to help out the struggling fishing industry. I don’t know if that is true or not, though according to the internet – which as you know, never lies – that is very possibly the case.

The reason this puzzles me so is that not eating meat on Fridays is absolutely no sacrifice for me. In fact, I love that I finally have an excuse to cook fish to serve to Bill, for whom giving up meat IS actually a sacrifice.

And furthermore (and I’m really starting to get nervous about a bolt of lightning), not eating meat on Fridays has the oh-so-slight resemblance to the hypocrites, about which I have been so focused this Lenten season. Look at me. I’m a Catholic. I’m not eating meat on Fridays. My conclusion is that while I may go to hell, it won’t be because I ate a piece of meat on Friday during Lent. Not that I have, mind you.

Having said all of that, I have been furiously posting nonmeat recipes on Pinterest and googling simple and tasty vegetarian fare so that I can have something to place in front of my hungry husband each Friday. As an aside, (and I know I have mentioned this before) back in the days when we couldn’t eat meat on any Friday, I remember my mom and dad staying up until midnight Friday night so that my mom could fry a skinny steak for my dad, who apparently believed he couldn’t go to work with only salmon casserole in his tummy. God bless them both.

As a service to my Catholic readers or anyone else interested in occasional vegetarian eating (and also to break the monotony of my seemingly endless blabbering on about my wholly uninteresting life) I am going to post non-meat recipes each week during Lent. For one day a week for the next 40 days and 40 nights, I’m going to pretend I’m a cooking blog.

God help us all.

When my son Court was small and my parents were both still living (I know you are all now saying, “I thought she wasn’t going to talk about herself!”), we used to meet at the Old Spaghetti Factory in Denver.  I have so many fond memories of mclains spaghetti factorythe times we spent there. And my memories continue, as it still is such a fun place to eat, especially when you have kids. We recently ate dinner at the Spaghetti Factory around Christmastime when our Vermont family was visiting. No one minded that there were a few kids running around and the volume was somewhat elevated.

Every time I have eaten at the Spaghetti Factory – every single, solitary time – I have ordered the same thing. It is called Pot Pourri, which is a sampler of their spaghetti with meat, marinara, clam, and mizithra cheese and browned butter.

The truth is, I don’t know why I don’t just order spaghetti with mizithra cheese, spaghetti mizithraas that is the one I like the most. I think it’s because I like to have a bit of the red sauce to mix into the cheese.

Here is the method  for making Old Spaghetti Factory’s spaghetti with mizithra cheese and browned butter. The most important thing is to make sure the butter is nicely browned. Not just melted, but browned. And lots of cheese.

spaghetti browned butter mizithra cheese 2

Voila. A perfect Friday dinner.



5 thoughts on “The Meat of the Matter

  1. You are officially an Honorary Greek, having discovered the secret to great spaghetti – myzithra cheese! Opaa!

    • I find it not a good cheese to snack on, but man is it ever good on spaghetti with butter. And opa right back at ya. Wish I had some ouzo right now (though it is only 8:25 a.m.)

      • The red sauce mix is great. My mom, also an honorary Greek, made chicken caccitore with a thin red sauce that when it came in contact with the myzithra you would swear it was served up special for Zeus, the god, not the dog.

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