Saturday, August 4, 2012


In the beginning, one of the day-to-day struggles of being married to an Orthodox Christian was the diet. You see, they're kinda vegan-- but only on certain days, and on those days, they're not "really" vegan. Even the shade of the shade of vegan changes. In fact, it is so freakin' complicated, the Orthodox church has to publish a color-coded calendar with specific notes just so people know what's okay to eat or not okay to eat. Fine. You don't buy it? I have proof:

I did the math. Orthos require some kind of special diet over 51% of the year. Why not just make 2012 100% vegan and 2013 an American free for all? We could switch off years! But, no. That would kill the revenue stream the calendars create. (Yeah, I'm onto you... Can't pull one over on me, babe.)

But even that's not hard enough. Even if the loving and supportive cook knows her audience and consults said special magical color-coded calendar, she may find that her husband would like cheddar flavored air-popped popcorn in his snacks bag even if it's a no-cheese day. The argument goes, "Orthodox Christians don't have to abide by calendar rules if they're traveling. We'll be in the car when I eat it, so we're traveling." You can bet that didn't pass the smell test so I pressed. He further explained that it wasn't just that we were IN a car or even IN a car that was MOVING, but we were going to stay at his parents... so we were "traveling."

This man has wreaked havoc on my life as a home chef. If we're gonna do this thing, we're gonna do it right-- even if I have to make you. This kept coming up so I did what I am sure women the world over do. I made sure it came up when a priest was around. mwahahahah! Surely God didn't show me a network of educated rational peaceful bearded dudes that my husband will listen to and not expect me to take advantage of it. It's a gift. :)

I'm proud to say we did discover the true intentions of "The Traveling Rule" are to allow Orthos to be good guests of and friends with non-Orthos. If you are around non-Ortho people, and say, your hostess puts scalloped potatoes, green bean casserole, and hamburger steaks with gravy on the table, by-golley you eat it with a smile and thank you ma'am-- no matter what the special magical color-coded calendar says.

Conversely, if you're around other Orthodox Christians, some of whom do not follow the magical special color-coded calendar or have an even more crazy partial calendar lifestyle, or you're with friends who know about the magical special color-coded calendar, you follow the calendar. For example, if Alex goes to a cookout at his best friend's house, he should bring a box of Boca. I say a box only because it's nice to share, and I like to think we influence the world to be healthier. Actually, his best friend would probably have Boca for Alex, just 'cause that's how they roll, yo. They love each other.

Did I mention that there's also a specified group of people who are excepted from following the calendar, and it's very similar to the group who can sit at church? --pregnant, nursing, old, and sick

Another exception is Thanksgiving which is smack dab in the second-longest fast of the year, the [Nativity or Advent fast](Alex's edit. I got it wrong. "baby Lent"). Even though everyone in his family is Ortho, or at least knows most everyone else is Ortho, we eat "American-style." The explanation for this is that he's part of the Orthodox Church of America, and y'know, Thanksgiving is right up there with the Fourth of July for us Americans. My immediate response to this was, "Why are Fridays EVER non-drinking days? Drinking on Friday is an American tradition!" Alex just laughed, but if anyone out there wants to weigh in, I'd be glad to hear your thoughts.

The special magical color-coded calendar helps us be organized and in compliance. It's a tool. Daily reliance on this, helped along by a pestering wife who doesn't know what she's talking about, can lead to a bit too strict a take on The Ortho Diet, however. Another brief diet-related incident comes to mind where a priest lept to my rescue robes-a-flying. Alex and the priest were at the table, and I was preparing food in the kitchen. I had cut something non-calendar-safe (don't remember what) and was about to cut something calendar-safe for Alex.

Alex leapt out of his chair and said, "You can't do that! Tina, you just used that knife for," insert whatever the food was. It was like the fourth time during that priest's visit that Alex had.. corrected would be a nice way of phrasing it, corrected me, and I kinda cringed. I was somewhere between crying and yelling, leaning towards crying. From where he sat the priest said, "Hey! We're not Jews. We're Orthodox Christians." *automatic smile flash* Hey, I'm only human. So is Alex. So is the priest.

If you think this post has nothing to do with fasting as a tool in your spiritual development, you are correct. I'm not a rube. I am a Christian. The topic is deliberately omitted. I'm sure you'll get enough of that talk from Alex, anyway. This is about husbands and wives adapting their expectations, lives, behaviors, and dinners to support each other and grow as a couple. Ladies, if you think you've got it worse, just remember that I don't post things I can't laugh about, yet. I do plan on posting lotsa recipes so that the next poor girl who falls in love with an Orthodox man will have it a little easier. Who knows, I might start a support group: My Husband is Ortho... But I'm Not (Anonymous). I'm sure I could make millions off a twelve step program... *tilt head right*

If you would like your very own special magical color-coded calendar... (Remember the revenue stream I mentioned earlier? Proceeds go to a school to train Ortho-priests.) There's more than just dietary guidelines to it, too. Feast, fast, and saint days are all listed with a brief blurb in the free space, and the back of each page has a full color icon.

[EDIT 8/16/12 Beginning 7:57 PM CST I totally forgot to explain the "kinda vegan" aspect. Orthos can eat meat. They can eat invertebrates-- mostly seafood (e.g. shrimp, crab,  scallops, crawfish, slugs). This seems to unfairly favor the rich and those who live on the coast. I've never heard a good explanation.]

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