Clean Monday Indulgence!

Lenten Table

Clean Monday – the start of the fast in the Orthodox Church. Social Media filled with friends sharing pictures of their Lenten fare.
In the strictest form of the Typikon this is a day of complete abstinence. In monasteries the first three days of Lent have no food at all.

Seeing the laden tables reminded me of the 12th Century satirical Poetry describing the Abbot’s dinner in the fast by  Theodoros Prodromos, known as Ptochoprodromos. This is an extract from a work addressed to the Emperor loannis ll Komnemnos, c. 1150.

And then you may be interested, Great Emperor,
To hear about the Wednesdays and Fridays? On those days, of course,
there is religious observance of fasting.
Great Emperor, on those days the monks do not indulge in fish,
only a little bread . . .
accompanied by lobster and crab,
and steamed crayfish, flambéed shrimps,
grated cabbage salad with lentils (lightly seasoned),
with modest heaps of oysters and cockles and mussels,
and not ungenerous helpings of stuffed squid and cuttlefish.
These can be served—and they unfailingly are—
with a pureed split-pea gamish or rice soaked in honey
and skinned beans. olives, caviar and fish-roe salad that helps suppress
Then dessert: baked apple with dates, dried figs, walnuts
and raisins imported from the isle of Chios,
and dainty citrus sweets.
Well, these dainties are extremely beneficial,
as they help settle the stomach for the strenuous task of digesting the spartan fare served to the venerable brothers on those irksome days of fasting.
And the wines!
Yes, there’s a sweet red wine from Thrace. and of course the usual vintages from Crete and Samos.
These serve to settle the digestive juices after the unpleasantness of the desserts. The venerable fathers superior enforce on me abstention from these tiresome foods. Yes, I am served — on days of fasting—  it should be recalled– boiled beans and cumin tea. Thus the monastic charter is strictly and reverently observed, as well as the rules established by tradition and Mother Church.

Translated by John Davis

And in Greek:-
Τετράδα καὶ Παρασκευὴ ξηροφαγοῦντες ὅλως,
ἰχθὺν γὰρ οὐκ ἐσθίομεν, ἄναξ, ποσῶς ἐν τούτοις,
ἀμὴ ψωμίτσια ἀστακούς, ἀληθινὰ παγούρια,
ὀκταποδίτσια καὶ σηπιὰς καὶ τὰ καλαμαρίτσια
καὶ καριδίτσας ἐκζεστὰς ἢ καὶ τηγάνου ἐκ τούτων
καὶ λαχανίτσιν καὶ φακὴν μὲ τὰ ὀστρειδομυδίτσια,
μετὰ τῶν ἄλλων, δέσποτα, κτένια καὶ τὰς σωλήνας
καὶ φαβατίτσιν ἀλεστόν, ὀρύζιν μὲ τὸ μέλι,
φασούλιν ἐξοφθαλμιστόν, ἐλαΐτσας καὶ χαβιάριν  
καὶ πωρινὰ ἀβγοτάριχα διὰ τὴν ἀνορεξίαν,
μηλίτσια τε καὶ φοίνικας, ἰσχάδας καὶ καρύδια
καὶ σταπιδίτσας χιώτικας καὶ ἀπὸ τὸ διακιτρίου.
καὶ σταπιδίτσας χιώτικας καὶ ἀπὸ τὸ διακιτρίου
καὶ καρυδάτον ὀλιγὸν καὶ κυδωνάτον χύτραν,
γρανάτα σαχαράτα τε καὶ τὸ ἀπαλοδάτον,   
ἵνα καί τι χωνεύσωσιν ἐκ τῆς ξηροφαγίας,
κρασὶν γλυκὺν γανίτικον καὶ κρητικὸν καὶ ἐκ Σάμου,
ἵνα χυμοὺς ἐκβάλωσιν ἐκ τῆς γλυκοποσίας.
Ἡμᾶς δὲ προτιθέασιν κυάμους βεβρεγμένους,
ἀκρώμους, ἀναλάτους τε καὶ μελανοὺς εἰς κόρον   
καὶ τὸν ἀτμὸν ἐκπέμπουσι δυσώδη τῇ ὀσφρήσει,
τὴν δέ γε δίψαν παύουσι μὲ τὸ κυμινοθέρμιν.
Οὕτως, φασί, τοὺς μοναχοὺς ἐνδέχεται ἐσθίειν,
τὸ τυπικὸν φυλάττοντες καὶ νόμους τῶν πατέρων.
Καλόγηρος δ’ ἐλάλησεν: «τὸ τυπικὸν ἂς φθάσῃ,  
γοργὸν ἂς τὸ ἀναγνώσωσιν μεγάλως εἰς τὴν μέσην.»

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