A Rainy Clean Monday!

I did this post two years ago but the weather this weekend seems very similar. Only our peas are not yet ready for picking, and their blossoms are white. But I guess I will cook and bake similar dishes. 


Kathari Deftera (Clean Monday), the first day of Lent is traditionally celebrated out of doors. During the long weekend people travel to the country to eat, drink, fly kites and dance to the tunes of live bands provided by various municipalities. But this year it seems it will be a rainy or quite windy day, a welcome change for us after a long period of sunny and dry weather, but the city people who will come to enjoy the island will probably feel miserable…

Yesterday the rain and the wind scattered the almond blossoms everywhere. 


Two years ago the moving feast had happened later, in March.

Just before the rain {two years ago} Costas and I gathered the first sweet peas from the garden; the wind had broken a large branch which we decided to use as decoration for our humble table. I briefly sautéed the peas with garlic, and dressed some of my pre-cooked beans with spicy ladolemono–lemon and olive oil with chopped scallions and Maras pepper. This year our lettuces are prolific and we share them with friends.

I baked my lagana adding 1/4 cup carob flour–more about this fantastic-tasting bread soon– and of course made rengosalata, my mother’s smoked herring spread, and a pepper and nut spread inspired by muhammara, which is part of my Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts.

To non-Greeks, our Clean Monday table probably sounds like a feast rather than a fast. The rules of orthodox fasting are somewhat peculiar, although they usually hide interesting explanations behind them. One of the basic commands is that no food containing red blood may be consumed. From this idea stem many unusual prohibitions. For example, although olives are allowed even on Holly Friday, olive oil is not, because in traditional olive pressing the olive pulp was passed between matts woven from goat’s wool. Similarly, only mollusks (octopus, cuttlefish, calamari), crustaceans (shrimp, lobster etc.) and fish roe are permitted; the flesh of fish that has even the smallest traces of red blood is considered ‘meat’, therefore not suitable for the Lenten table. In other words, fish roe, or even caviar are safely clean foods, most appropriate for that glorious first day of Lent; and so is wine!

READ more about this unusual feast from last year’s post.




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