Mardi Gras is Tuesday, which means Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the period of Lent follows. And so the season of the Friday evening fish fry begins this week, too.
The fish fry isn’t just a meal — it’s a community gathering, a breaking of bread (rye, please) together that also frequently features beer and homemade desserts.
The Archdiocese of Louisville has released this year’s schedule of parish fish fries (full document here), which includes events in Jefferson and surrounding counties.
Fish on Fridays is a long-standing Catholic tradition, but fasting from meat on Fridays becomes a wide-spread shared ritual during the roughly six weeks between Ash Wednesday and Easter. Many sacrifice some kind of wordly pleasure for the observance of Lent, but even those who don’t might love a good hunk of fried cod after work on Fridays.
Why do Catholics (and fish fry lovers in Catholic-heavy neighborhoods!) eat fish on Fridays? According to this 2012 NPR piece on the origins of this faith-based habit, because Jesus died on a Friday, many Christians fasted on this day, and the ritual dates back as early as the first century. But apparently, only warm-blooded animals were considered off-limits — fish and reptiles were, so to speak, fair game.
Perhaps it speaks to the strong ties of tradition that the trend of esoteric meats hasn’t landed fried snake bites on the neighborhood church fish fry menu, though it’s worth noting that Saint Francis of Assisi on Bardstown Road also serves crab cakes (fancy!).