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Rice work if you can get it

By Francesca Ryan

When is a crisp not a crisp? When it’s a Snackajack.

That’s right, the salted rice cakes that I have been crunching on all week – amid a torrent of abuse – are not crisps.

It’s fair to say I have been on the receiving end of some sharp tongues, albeit the tongues are firmly welded in cheek, this week over my Lenten promise to abstain from eating crisps until Easter.  It’s my annual ritual and for the past two years I have managed to succeed. Up until then I was a little bit lax about Lent.  Lax meaning I was never able to do it.  In the past, I was always quick to broadcast what I was going off and talk about it for weeks in advance, but just a few days in, I was usually beaten.  I recall one Lent I decided to call time on cheese and alcohol and with all the steely determination of a mountain climber I was able to pull it off. Well, for two days anyway, in the early hours of the first Saturday I found myself at a house party eating pizza after a drunken night on the tiles.

But that’s no more. The new Me keeps promises. To God and to others. So imagine my disgruntlement when I became the target of abuse this past week for eating rice cakes – not potatoes cooked in fat – rice cakes.  Several of my esteemed colleagues were quick to throw the pious look that seems to sadly whisper: “You’ve let me down and more importantly you’ve let God down.” You know, the kind of disappointed look that is normally reserved for the person who lets slip to a nursery class that Santa doesn’t exist.

Others opted to go for the jugular: “You broke your Lent already?” several sniped as I innocently sat at my desk chewing on my rice cakes.

Of course, the answer is that I haven’t broken Lent. This response holds no weight up at the Belfast Media Group offices at Teach Basil, though.  The naysayers are out in force. Without naming any names, I’m talking about the individuals who went off drink for Lent only to get wired into the wine on Ash Wednesday; the ones who are off chocolate bars but not chocolate in any other format (seriously); and the ones who aren’t actually giving up anything at all.

I’m sticking to my promise.  Not only am I sticking to it but I actually think I’ve discovered a way to take the sting out of Lent.  I hope that isn’t blasphemous, but let’s be honest, it’s a fairly big ask when crisps are a daily part of the diet, so anything to make the fast more merciful is welcome.

I was thrilled to discover, by chance, that Ash Wednesday collided with National Margarita Day, so I decided to honour that tradition as well. No point in being exclusive.  I also treated myself to new contact lenses so for the first time in four months I can see without my glasses. If you have seen me in the past four months and thought I was being rude, I wasn’t, I just couldn’t see.  I’m also making my triumphant return to the gym this week, again; it’s been four months since my last visit due to injury.  These are all things that I think will add to my existence over the next five weeks.

So while I may not be able to kick back with Monster Munch, Frazzles or Space Raiders for the next while, you could well find me people-watching over a margarita in the gym.

Or just eating Snackajacks, which definitively are not crisps.

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