This year for Lent, rather than give something up, I’m going to do something new each day. Why not? We’re in a recession and I’ve already given up every indulgence. Isn’t this a good year to flip the abstinence thing upside down?
White tablecloth restaurants are suffering. Grocers report a sharp decline in the sale of seafood and steaks. I’m from the coastal south where, to stretch the food budget, we throw everything in a stockpot and call it “gumbo.” Don’t ask what’s in there. If you make a good, dark roux to begin with, everything works.
Couldn't “gumbo” philosophy work in other areas of life? Are there ingredients I love (friends, family, hobbies, books) that I've left out of the soup too long? I’ll spend the Lenten season exploring the back shelves of my life's pantry.
Enough philosophy. Here's a practical suggestion from a professional chef buddy: when you get to the bottom of condiments (mustard, mayonnaise, 1000 Island, whatever), add a ¼ cup of white vinegar to the container, put the top back and swish it around. Shake it hard, to get every last drop of what you paid good money for but can't reach with a knife, and then use this as a tangy dressing for a salad or sandwich. Even better, start a house dressing jar you keep in the refrigerator, combining various flavors. The only downside is you may reach salad dressing Nirvana, only to realize you don’t know how you got there.
Who says we can’t eat well in a recession? Or, live well, for that matter.