Meatless Fridays and Beef Rice

I don’t remember the exact age that I began refraining from eating meat on Fridays during Lent. I don’t remember what my parents used to do before my brother and I were old enough to follow that rule–cook us chicken and order themselves pizza? I don’t even remember ever being taught that a good Catholic never eats meat (unless it was fish, which was completely unlikely in my family) on a Friday during Lent. It was just something I knew. I thought it was the greatest honor the first year I was told to participate. I felt so grown up.

By the time I was in 7th grade, I had started getting bad at remembering. Most of my Friday nights were spent away from home, without my parents to remind me. Two of my best friends were also Catholic, so sometimes one of us would remember and warn the others not to order that chicken taco with sour cream. Usually, though, we would do something like order a pepperoni pizza and then wait until midnight to let anyone–our meat-eating Lutheran friend included–eat a slice.

Knorr Rice Sides Beef flavor was a staple in my group of friends. It was a side dish my parents had always prepared for meals that I hated, like pot roast or roast beef, so I grew to love it as a main dish. I converted my friends, one by one, from resistance (does it actually taste like beef?) to obsession (I’m still not sure what it tastes like*, but it is delicious). We got into legitimate fights over whose bowl had more rice. I brought a bag of the rice with me to every sleepover.

I remember coming home one Saturday morning during Lent and proudly announcing to my parents that I had remembered not to eat meat. I only ate beef rice! I bragged, No real meat in it! My parents informed me that my favorite meal still counted as meat and I shouldn’t eat it on Fridays.

Instead of dealing with the temptation of eating it on Fridays (it still didn’t seem to count in my mind) I decided to give it up for good. And by good, I mean the last thirty-some days of Lent. I ended up giving up my rice for Lent from the ages 13 to 18.

Beef rice has become what I want when I’m sick or on those nights that I wish I had gone to the same school as my best friends from high school, many of whom have stayed the same since those meatless Fridays in junior high.

After so many years of cooking those packets of rice, I am shocked I never noticed the rice has microwave directions. I’ve missed out on my “rice and pasta blend in a savory beef flavored sauce” for the past year and a half of school. But all that ended today.

It tastes just as wonderful made in the microwave as it does from the stove. I found out after I made my steaming plate of deliciousness that the bowl I used was not microwave safe. I’m hoping that is because the bowl gets extremely hot and not because it was releasing some sort of toxin into my beautiful beef rice… but if that were the case, I can assure you it would be worth it.

*According to the Knorr website, the rice tastes like “Rice and pasta blend in a hearty, beef-flavored sauce with onions, garlic, thyme, rosemary, paprika and diced carrots.” I can’t say my palette is refined enough to get all those flavors, but it is refined enough to know that the rice is absolutely delicious.