Funny thing about Lent, on the one hand it means abstinence (along with prayer and giving to charity). On the other it means it’s pig-out time, at least for some Catholics. The way I grew up in the Chicago area, Lent was always a fairly austere period, when gratuitous eating of any kind was frowned upon. But just try telling that to the more exuberant Catholics down here in Louisville. Lenten Fridays here may be meatless, but they’re host to high-spirited fish fries that would make many northern Catholics blush. Are we really supposed to be having this much fun this time of year?
Hot cross buns were about as indulgent as the Catholics I grew up with were willing to get during Lent. Lightly glazed plain white bread was what they were, with a thin cross of white icing dripped over them. Not much to get excited about, really, save for the sweet part, which acted as a kind of teaser to the sweets we were all looking forward to on Easter morning. My twin sister and I usually just nibbled it off and left the rest for the birds. I hope to do a little better than that.