Love Me Some Lent

March 16th, 2017

Well, it’s Lent again, my good people, and I’ve given up the last 325 days to get to these 40 and the Calvary Waffle Shop. Don’t sweat the calories or the nap inducing portions; go for it with the blessing of the church.

For instance, if you’ve given up booze for Lent, there’s enough in one serving of Boston Cream Pie, one slice of Chocolate Bourbon Cake, to blow the whole deal, but, hey, you’re forgiven.

I love the Episcopal Church.

As published in The Memphis Daily News, March 17, 2017, and in The Memphis News, March 18-24, 2017

Boston Cream Pie


The Episcopal Church, with ancient roots in early Christianity, the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Church, has many arcane names and traditions in its liturgy derived from the many languages and practices of its long history.

For instance, we call where the people sit in the church the nave, derived from the Latin navis or boat, symbolic of life as a voyage from birth to death with God as the captain.

For another, the traditional Episcopal Church is built in the shape of a cross and the arms of the cross on the sides of the nave are called transepts from the Latin trans and septum or cross separation. 

See what I mean? Arcane.

So, this being Lent, I thought I would explain some of the things peculiar to this 40 days.

Waffle: from the Old English whoa•full, mentioned by Chaucer, “whan that whoafull bathed in swich syrup hath fille me thru.”

Sausage: from the Latin sassius pigius pattius.

Fish Pudding: inspired by the fishes and loaves miracle, one serving will feed a multitude, and unlike the biblical version, this one comes with homemade tartar sauce.

Tomato Aspic: from the Latin tomat est wiggly.

Shrimp Mousse: from Latin crustacia est wiggly.

Chicken Salad: English translation of the French word mayonnaise (see also Salad Plate).

Schaum Torte: German translation of the English word strawberry. 

Chicken Hash: variation of the Middle English expression “riche as Croesus” (see also Fudge Pie and Chess Pie).

Boston Cream Pie: charming euphemism for cocktail, ether sherry or rum, topped with whipped cream (see also Chocolate Bourbon Cake).

Turnip Greens and Cornsticks: referred to in the Old Testament as manna (see also Chicken Noodle Soup and Corned Beef and Cabbage).

Spaghetti and Rye Bread: ancient meal symbolic of when the Romans and the Huns decided to start getting along.

Chicken Giblets and Rice: ritual meal it takes guts to eat.

All of the above are confined to Lent and the Waffle Shop at Calvary Episcopal Church in Downtown Memphis – a guilty indulgence in a time of penitence. Homemade mayonnaise in a time of sacrifice.

The Episcopal Church is nothing if not forgiving.

Up in the church – the aforementioned nave – famed preachers mount the pulpit for the Calvary Lenten Speakers Series. Down in the basement – the aforementioned Waffle Shop – the comforting liturgy flows from the kitchen and its rich tradition is shared at table. Would-be kings, queens and heirs apparent to our commerce, politics and jurisprudence sit elbow-to-elbow with our hoi polloi, with our characters, legends and pretenders all in common praise of greased, salted, sugared, and floured conversation.

It’s not strictly kosher, but it’s not strictly ecumenical either.

From that pulpit one Lent, I heard Rabbi Micah Greenstein say, “When you see me in heaven, I won’t mind if you’re surprised – I just hope you won’t be disappointed.”

So to paraphrase, come on down – you might be surprised, but you will not be disappointed.

I’m a Memphian, and as Episcopalians say, here endeth the lesson.


There are no comments yet.

Leave a comment