It's Lent. Traditionally Christians, and particularly those of the Greek Orthodox faith, fast during the six weeks preceding Easter. It's a reminder of Jesus fasting in the wilderness, I suppose. Not that people fast completely; some give up coffee, or sweets. The Greek Orthodox people are supposed to give up meat and fish (although, shellfish and octopus are allowed, for some reason). Many of them don't in Cyprus, but there are some who do, and we try to respect this. We don't have barbecues during Lent, for instance.
The point of fasting, it seems to me, is to spend time in prayer when one would otherwise be eating, and perhaps to give away the money one would otherwise have spent on a luxury item. Fasting reminds us that others are less fortunate in many parts of the world, and that we can do without many items we take for granted. I don't do it myself, in general, but admire those who do.
So I was startled this week to receive a piece of junk-mail in our letter box (we get lots of junk mail, but I usually glance through it quickly before throwing it out) advertising a new range of vegetarian products at a local fast-food place. Yes, I can see that if people are taking fasting seriously then they might feel they have to grab a veggie-burger at McDonald's on the way to a meeting when they were running late, and in general - having one vegetarian son, and preferring veggie food myself on the whole - I'm glad that supermarkets, restaurants and fast-food places in Cyprus are beginning to notice the need for non-meat products.
But the bizarre thing about this is that the fast-food place in question is... KFC! Yes, Kentucky Fried Chicken, as it was known until a few years ago. Famous for its ultra-high-fat spicy coatings with, hopefully, a little chicken inside. KFC is not somewhere I would ever take a vegeterian, nor somewhere I would look for veggie food.
But, here's the advert:
The salad looks pretty good, but then what's the point of buying salad at a fast-food place?! We'll stick to our local 'Souvlaki Express' on the occasions (about once a month) when we eat fast food... and they already do a vegetarian option, with halloumi rather than meat. Which, I suppose, is just as bizarre as KFC doing veggie dishes, since souvlaki means 'little pieces of meat'.
Oh, and if you want a large quantity of fast food during your fast, you can even try the 'fasting bucket'...