Who Says Lent has to be Boring?

Amelia Broman

When someone brings up Lent, you probably feel a swell of emotions. First, panic. Nononono please don’t start explaining the meaning of Lent to me again! Following this comes a feeling you can’t quite place. Maybe disinterest. Maybe guilt. Overall, something just a bit uncomfortable.

Because let’s face it, Lent is an awkward season.
It’s that awkward moment when you realize that Mardi Gras happens on Fat Tuesday because it actually means Fat Tuesday in French. (Or was that just me?)
It’s when McDonald’s starts awkwardly serving fish on Fridays while everyone tries very hard not to mention anything about religion.
It’s going to church or school prayer service and standing there in awkwardness as you remember you’ve supposed to have been solemn and thoughtful and pious this whole time.

Lent’s problem, in the end, is that it lacks an identity. It can seem plastered on, separate, existing just to make us feel guilty and give up chocolate. So what Lent needs is less preaching about its importance and meaning. What Lent needs is a bit of good hearty Midwestern cultural identity.

What Lent needs is a bit of good hearty Midwestern cultural identity.”

Consider the turtle fry. Each Friday during Lent, Dorf Haus German restaurant in Roxbury, Wisconsin prepares a snapping turtle roast that draws crowds from miles around. As a cold blooded animal, turtle is acceptable for Catholics to eat on Fridays, and its meatier taste offers an adventurous alternative to fish. It’s braised, marinated in burgundy wine, roasted in spices for four hours, and served with mashed potatoes. What does it taste like? That’s an ongoing debate among customers. According to Hank Shaw, author of Hunt, Gather, Cook, turtle is “this cool combination of chicken thigh, clam, and pork.” The restaurant even got a special letter from the bishop saying the turtle roast was okay.

And then there’s St. Cloud’s special bit of Lenten humor this year at Culver’s. Throughout the year, Culver’s advertise its ice cream Flavor of the Day on its sign out front. Andy’s Mint Avalanche. Oreo Overload. Whatever. For Lent, though, Culver’s added a new announcement right below this – “Walleye is back.” To the casual passerby, the sign now appears to be announcing the return of a disgusting ice cream/walleye combination. Caramel Fudge Cookie Dough Walleye, anyone?

Culver's Lent Sign

Have a happy Lent!