My dear friend Caitlin is leaving Austin for Berlin, and while I have not reconciled to this fact yet, still some manner of merriment was in order before her departure. What better excuse to break my lenten fast than to bid farewell to my girl who is moving to the land of sausage and wheat beer? We chose Enoteca’s as the site of our farewell repast.

I don’t think I’m managing my fast too well: I know I’m lacking in protein, and feel certain that this is why my cravings have been so strong. I don’t recall ever wanting to eat so badly a burger or steak (or better yet–a burger AND a steak!) in my life. For days before our lunch date I was ogling and drooling over the online menu, getting a head start on what would surely be an agonizing decision between the pressed mushroom panini and the open-faced bacon, avocado & tomato sandwich.

I had the panini. It was delicious, Cambozola cheese oozing seductively out of perfectly grilled slabs of white flour. But soon after the first bite I got a distinct WTF? memo from my body. Exactly what was I expecting it to process? While I didn’t utter the words low-prana food–and I totally could’ve, Caitlin being that rare sort of person in my life with whom I can discuss such things as sattvic vs. tamasic foods with our mouths stuffed with pasta and cheese, which is why I cherish her–they did occur to me, and I certainly felt as though I was ingesting dead, if delicious, food. (For a more in-depth discussion of the energetic properties of food, please read this article.)

The night before lunch at Enoteca’s, I made a lovely dinner of rice, lentils, garden kale, everything smothered in caramelized onions. It was a feast of such simplicity, the only seasonings being olive oil, salt & pepper, garlic, lemon, and red pepper flakes, yet its delicate earthiness, its manifold flavors, almost literally made my body sing. It was sooo good–good, clean food. I enjoyed it again just as much as leftovers for dinner after the Enoteca lunch.

Be careful what you let in the door, folks. Vegan diets, however temporary you originally intend them to be, might just end up unpacking their bags and staying for good. At the very least they are quite likely to muck up your enjoyment of a perfectly delicious mushroom panini, rendering the eating  much less pleasurable than the longing for said panini. But, since the longing itself doesn’t break the fast, I suppose it’s fair game to keep indulging in that.

At the end of the meal at Enoteca’s, I asked the waitress to bring me the most intensely almond-flavored almond cookie in the joint. The amaretti she brought me was divine: both intense and ethereal, soft and crispy, a sighing, lip-smacking delight to the very last crumb.

So, moral of the story: just let me have my longing, my lentils and my cookie, and I’ll be a thoroughly happy lady.