Do people really still give up vices for lent? It's shocking but true: they do, especially in heavily Catholic areas like New Mexico. This is a fascinating religious ritual, a physical and mental marathon of self-denial. A few years ago I gave up booze for lent (mostly just so I could refuse drinks with the line, "No thanks, I gave it up for lent"). But the joke was on me; I'm not so good at self-denial and this 40-day-dry-out was brutal. I think I actually only lasted about 36 days, finally breaking down at Launchpad with a couple of double-tall Bombay Sapphire and tonics. It's so easy to obsess about whatever you're avoiding (booze, cigarettes, candy, pay-per-view porn) that the whole challenge is to think of something—anything—besides the object you've given up. When I was in Sunday school I thought the whole suffering thing was stupid. Why suffer when you don't have to? Needless to say the lesson was wasted on me. Why not pledge to keep everything in balance for lent? I will not do tequila shots. I will not have casual sex with strangers. I will not eat a Snickers and a bag of Fritos and call it lunch. Then again, this moderation doesn't entitle you to any sort of Mardi-Gras blowout. And that is really the best part of lent: getting all the evil out of your system beforehand.
Yashoda Naidoo does that Ayurvedic voodoo so well! The owner of Annapurna Chai House told me that she expects to have a third location of her popular vegetarian/Indian/ayurvedic restaurants open by early April. Right now there is one at San Mateo and Copper and another at Silver and Yale. After months of searching, she finally settled on the perfect location (2120 Juan Tabo NE at Menaul), close to the Ayurvedic Institute. Students at the Institute, Naidoo says, have long been requesting an Annapurna nearby. This will be a relatively small space, with only about 30 seats. Naidoo is planning a trip to India in March to pick up supplies for the restaurant and to scout for ayurvedic cooks who can help take some of the kitchen work off of her shoulders.
This fancy-sounding soup is actually a humble dish that has sustained its popularity because it delivers dynamite flavor from only a few cheap ingredients, it's easy to make and it's even low-fat, assuming you don't drown it in cheese. In fact, the soup is so flavorful that it can easily stand on its own, without the customary crouton and melted Gruyère. Sans cheese, a small serving fits well as part of a multi-course meal.