Sunday, January 03, 2010

Fasting Advice

I've invited an Orthodox clerical friend to lunch on Tuesday, what should I give him to eat. He hesitated before accepting but is too well brought up to have said anything. It is only afterwards I realised that Tuesday is a fast day. So menu suggestions please.

Ecumenism suffers we invent national calendars!


The Raven (C. Corax) said...


From recollection, meat, meat broth, fish, milk, eggs and cheese are all verboeten to the orthodox when they are fasting (although I recall some odd rule that molluscs, squid and octopus are licit!).

The Greeks tend to go in for dishes that are based on pulses like lentils and haricot beans, especially at this time of year.

Rubricarius said...

Does your friend follow the new calendar or the Julian one? If the latter he is in the Nativity fast.

Vegetable curry, chick-pea dahl and wholegrain rice with winter salad suggest themselves.

Simon Platt said...

Ask him!

(Or is this post your way of doing that?)

The Raven (C. Corax) said...


From recollection the orthodox extend our typical rules on fasting by specifying that no fish, eggs or dairy products can be consumed (for some reason molluscs, squid and octopuses are vegetables for the purposes of the fasting laws!).

At this time of year a hearty bean casserole or lentil concoction would probably be most appreciated (failing that, beans on toast?).

Pastor in Monte said...

Best idea is to ask him what he can or cannot eat. This will save embarrassment all round. If he is on the Julian calendar, no doubt he is still in Advent.

pelerin said...

I was trying to think why Tuesday should be a fast day in the Orthodox calendar and then I realised that it was the day before Epiphany.

I seem to remember that years ago we fasted on the days before major feasts. I particularly remember Christmas Eve and the day before the Feast of the Immaculate Conception but do not remember the day before Epiphany - perhaps this was the first to disappear.

Regarding food I suppose it will depend on whether the priest will be counting your meal as his main meal of the day!

gemoftheocean said...

Borscht!!!! And homemade bread. And tea from a samovar with sugar cubes he can hold between his teeth when drinking the tea.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Unfortunately I can't contact him until he arrives.
He is new calendar.
It is food without meat, oil, fish etc
Any suggestions for a menu, or recipes?

georgem said...

Father, If you are pressed for time and want to do a “quickie” (takes about 5 mins to heat through) a couple of tins of clams in juice - if fast permits - throw into saucepan and mix with 1 or 2 dessert spoons of tomato and chilli sauce, and 3 dessert spoons of tomato pasta sauce according to taste (Loyd Grossman’s jars are good on both those), black pepper, pasta and plenty of crusty bread to mop up. Why not start off with a selection of olives and bread? You could finish off with summer pudding; all berries so should be ok. There are some decent veggie recipes on the Waitrose website, including a rather tasty nut roast.
As mentioned previously, it depends how much he is permitted to eat. Don’t suppose you can alter the day now?
Anyway, you must let us know what you decide to choose!
A happy, blessed and peaceful 2010 to you and to all posters.

Anagnostis said...


Reminds me of my first Great Lent in Orthodoxy, sitting with another couple of converts in a shell-shocked huddle over our black tea and olive bread after Divine Liturgy. A more-than-usually-pulchritudinous Greek girl came bounding over and kissed each of us on both cheeks. "What's up with you lot?" she asked, looking genuinely concerned.

"We don't know what to eat!"

Greeks and Slavs, of course, have loads of recipes for fasting seasons, which they take absolutely for granted. My friend was shocked and disgusted by tales of two weeks on peanut butter, baked potatoes and beans. "Why don't you just google some Orthodox sites for recipes?"

Like this one:

On the other hand, a baked potato with baked beans is fine once in a while. Green salads, fruit, bowls of mixed nuts and raisins. One of these nice vegetarian Baxter's soups, stiffened with extra pinto beans, tomatoes, fresh basil and olives and served with oatcakes...

I'm all glutted out today on strong liquor and the body parts of beasts and fowls. I can hardly wait...

(Quornfare Sunday is the last in Lent, BTW ;o))

Anagnostis said...

BTW watch out for lentil dahls and things like that - they still tend to be cooked with ghee (clarified butter).

Anagnostis said...

There's also the phenomenon of "dual calendarism" - a standing temptation for those of us able to attend both Greek and Russian services, according to which one eats consistently with the liturgy one has attended on that particular day. Curiously, the principle tends operate only in one direction, if you see what I mean...

Unknown said...

I think there is a local Orthodox community using what used to be an Anglican church in Carlton Hill (parallel to Edward Street). Is there someone there that you could ask for sdvice?

Anonymous said...

I'm a vegetarian of 15 years and really any Vegan recipes would be acceptable for Orthodox on fast days. During Lent I try to eat vegan recipes and on Fridays of the year I eat vegan since I don't give up meat.

gemoftheocean said...

Try this recipe for Manhattan clam chowder: [Leave out the bacon, duh!]

1/4 c. minced onion
5 strips bacon [Omit]
2 cans (7 oz. each) minced or whole clams, drained (reserve liquor) (I'd use fresh, if you can)
2 c. diced pared potatoes
1 c. water
1/3 c. diced celery
1 can (16 oz.) tomatoes
2 tsp. snipped parsley
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. thyme
1/8 tsp. pepper

In large saucepan, cook and stir bacon and onion until bacon is crisp and onion is tender. Stir in reserved clam liquor, the potatoes, water and celery. Cook uncovered until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Add clams, tomatoes and seasonings. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally. 6 servings.

[Sheesh, the lack of oil or butter really kills choices!!!]

[You could use oysters instead and put little oyster crackers on the side.]

And then you could serve with stuffed rice tomato: [leave off cheese for friend -- I'd cover with foil]

2 lg. tomatoes
1.5 tbsp. water
small onion, diced
1/4 cup green pepper, diced
1 c. cooked rice
1/2 tbsp. grated Romano or Parmesan cheese (for thee)

1. Remove pulp of each tomato, leaving shell for stuffing.
2. Chop tomato pulp fine and place in a nonstick pan with 3 tablespoons of water.

3. Add onion and green pepper and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft.

4. Add cooked rice and mix well.

5. Remove from heat and stuff tomato shells with mixture.

6. Top tomatoes with grated cheese and bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.

You may want to cut back by half on the potatoes, since you've already used it in the soup.

I'd serve with cornbread.

If you can serve wine, then try Chenin Blanc, or Lagaria Pinot Grigio.

gemoftheocean said...

BTW, you can use seafood, as long as it doesn't have a backbone.

pelerin said...


You could go for the octopus and have six other guests so you would all get a leg each!

If pasta is allowed then perhaps that with a nice Italian sauce would be acceptable.

pelerin said...

PS I'm no cook but Fr Z has had some good recipes on his blog featuring pasta.

Red Maria said...

Go Mexican?

Starter: Guacomole
Mash ripe avocado with a fork, add finely diced tomatoes, onions or spring onions, a crushed clove of garlic, stir, squeeze in some lime juice (Nigella puts salt into the lime juice saying that thus is the salt more evenly distributed), shake a few drops of tobasco sauce over it, stir again, sprinkle over some shredded coriander leaves, serve with tortilla chips.

The no oil rule is making it a bit difficult - do vegetables sweated in olive oil count? If they do I can't think how to make vegetable and bean chilli (sweat the usual vegetables in oil with garlic, add drained beans, tin of tomatoes, oregano, if dried use less, say a sprig if fresh, some shakes of tobasco and served with rice.

Or whatabout baking a butternut squash? Take it out of the oven after about 30-40 mins, slice open the top and mash the pulp with some fresh thyme leaves (go easy on it though, say the leaves of one stalk) crushed garlic however you like it, baked and mild or raw and strong, a finely sliced chilli or some shakes of tobasco sauce and served with rice.

Desert could be fruit, say pineapple slices sprinkled with mint or lime sugar.

nickbris said...

Try GOOGLE Father,very comprehensive on Orthodox Fasting.

Physiocrat said...

Take a walk round Infinity Foods and see if there is anything that appeals.

Dominic Mary said...


try starting with Hummus with warm Pitta Bread, then Imam Bayeldi, made without oil; if it's only lunch you could probably get away without dessert.

Pablo the Mexican said...

Dear Padre,

A good bottle of Tuscan wine, some bread, and olive oil.

(Gabbiano brand Tuscan wine was allowed for Mass in the twelth century).

Buen provecho, Padres.


CG said...

It's the Vigil of a major feast: we should be fasting too, though perhaps in a less strict way.

epsilon said...

Father, according to wikipedia the eve of the Epiphany is meant to be a day of fasting:

"Paramony [the eve] is observed as a strict fast day, on which those faithful who are physically able, refrain from food until the first star is observed in the evening, when a meal with wine and oil may be taken."

Sounds as if it will have to be a late lunch:)

A very simple dish might be lentils (they don't have to be soaked beforehand) follow the instructions on the packet to cook the lentils - NB it's very important NOT to add salt while cooking them as they don't soften if you do.

Prepare whatever veg you've got. fry them up with some onions, garlic in olive oil. Mix in with the cooked lentils and season with salt, sprinkle of(cayenne)pepper, coriander - delish

Anonymous said...

A friend once told me that, when he first became Orthodox, he misinterpreted the fasting guidelnes so that, on say weekends, when it said "oil and wine permitted", he thought that this was all he was allowed to eat (with a little bread). His feats of fasting must have been quite extraordinary, almost on the level of the desert Fathers!


The Bones said...

Wild Mushroom and Spinach Risotto

1 large onion, diced
50g butter...Oh...

Sweet Potato and Spinach Dhal

100g red lentils
100g green lentils
350 g sweet potato cubes, fresh or frozen
1 x 400g tin ready friend onions
1 x 250g bag spinach leaves
1 x 600g carton new covent garden butternut squash and sweet potato soup
1 teaspoon ginger puree
1 teaspoon garlic puree
2 teaspoons garam masala

Rinse lentils and place in a saucepan of cold water. Bring to the boil rapidly for 10 minutes.

Rinse then drain.

Using the same saucepan, add the friend onions, garlic, ginger and garam masala and fry for 2-3 mins until fragrant.

Add the lentils and soup then cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add the lentils and soup, then cover and simmer for 15 mins.

Add the sweet potato cubes, stir and cook for a further 10 mins.

Add the spinach leaves. Stir and leave for a few minutes to wilt.

Season to taste and serve with pilau rice, naan bread and a dollop of natural yoghurt (or not in this case!)

Red Maria said...

@ Epsilon: my sins would have to be mortal for the penance to be so ghastly as to involve lentils - yeurgh, hideous pulse.

Fr John Hunwicke said...


Anonymous said...

Father, I recall a funny story heard from a Russian Orthodox priest. There was a monastery in northern Russia with the abbot forcing his monks to be very strict in the observance of even minor Greek rules. During a particular fast day, many kinds of food were forbidden for the monks, but not wine. A rule said that monks may (or must?) drink 300 grams of wine. Becasuse it was the north or Russia, they had no wine (except valuable wine for used for liturgical purposes). So, the abbot made the monks to drink vodka. Exactly 300 gram, with a few cucumbers for a major a meal.

as to recipes, one web site is:

Anagnostis said...

Remember - no wine either, Father.

joannaB73 said...

Vegetable curry with rice or jacket potatoes and plain bread or naan or pitta bread. Or vegetable stir fry with noodles.

frmarkdrew said...

Sea food is not counted with fish among the forbidden foods on fast days. Here in Greece they say you cannot eat anything with red blood. Since olive oil and wine are also off the menu, I suggest a good vegetable or sea-food curry, or indeed any comination of those, using vegetablle oil. Unless your friend is extremely strict - which would be unusual if he is new calendar - he will probably not be averse to non wine-based alcohols, so a good few bottles of beer is a good choice to accompany curries.

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