Although my Lenten Friday lunch was delicious and made from ingredients-on-hand, it didn’t mean I had no intention of not buying groceries or cooking something wonderful, or even going out for dinner sometime. Especially since it was the Friday before our first Valentine’s Day as newlyweds–and doubly-especially since my Valentine’s Day itself was overscheduled with church, a condo association meeting, and a long evening rehearsal.
I left my office when she left hers, and headed out to do some marketing. (Her commute is much longer than mine; I knew it allowed for errands.) By the time her train was approaching the station, I had developed a dinner idea and sourced the few ingredients I knew we didn’t have–and found and installed a new bathroom shower-head (her real Valentine’s surprise).
While she decompressed from the workday and warmed up from the frigid outdoors, I cleaned a half-pound of shrimp, then tossed the shrimp with the juice of a lime, a pinch each of salt and chili powder, and a shot of tequila. While the shrimp marinated, I grated some cheese, chopped a handful of cilantro, mashed an avocado, and found a jar of her excellent salsa in the cupboard.
She made a salad while I gave the shrimp few moments in a hot cast-iron skillet–seriously moments; it was maybe a minute-thirty tops. I chopped the shrimp roughly and started making assembling quesadillas. A tortilla, some grated cheese, a bit of shrimp, a little more cheese, a second tortilla; flip carefully to lightly brown the second side and melt the rest of the cheese. I slid the finished product onto a plate and stashed it in a warm oven while I repeated the process, then sliced each double-disc of cheesy, shrimpy goodness into wedges, and plated the wedges with dabs of avocado, sour creme, and salsa for topping.
She took a bite and mmmmmmmdd pretty expansively. I took that as a good sign. “Dinner’s okay?” I asked. “Omigod,” she said. Leaving theology out of it, I joked, “It’s just a grilled cheese sandwich.”
“It is not just a grilled cheese sandwich.”
“Well, no. There’s seafood. And a white sauce. It’s just a few breadcrumbs away from being a McDonald’s Filet-o-Fish!” She grimaced.
Of course, it wasn’t really that either. But it wasn’t much harder to make than it would be to get a fish sandwich from a drive-through. And it was much better.
It wasn’t fasting, and it wasn’t fast food. There wasn’t much of the sacrificial about this meal—abstinence in name only, but we never said we’d be ascetic. We were grateful to be well-fed, and grateful to be together.