A Lenten Lament


Ash Wednesday has come and gone and today is the first Friday of the Lenten season.  This is the roughly forty day period where we Catholics are to re-orient ourselves through a focus on prayer, fasting and almsgiving.  Part of the observance of Lent is the Friday abstinence from meat.  Worthy things all.  But I have this recurring problem.  I. Don’t. Like. Fish.

I have never liked fish.  Why?  I have no idea.  Except that here in the heart of the Midwestern US, is there any reason to like fish?

Perhaps if I lived in Boston or Ft. Lauderdale or Honolulu I would have been raised on delicious fresh-caught seafood that would tickle me with delight.  But I did not.  I grew up in Indiana, where fresh, life-giving pork tenderloins and sirloin steaks are only as far away as the nearest butcher shop or farmer’s market.  Which we should call Landfood shops, by the way.

Seafood, on the other hand, has to come from somewhere with, you know, a sea.  Which means that it gets caught, then brought ashore in some east or west or gulf or Alaskan coast harbor.  Then it gets cut up, boxed up and loaded in cold trucks and driven out here to the middle of the continent.  Which takes, what, three days before it even makes it into a retail display case?  Which is coincidentally about the same interval of time at which I begin to suspiciously eye the leftovers in my own refrigerator.

And does anyone really believe that the folks who live where the fish are caught take the crummy ones, leaving the really prime examples for those of us in the hinterlands?  Didn’t think so.  Besides, why would I want to eat something sold by someone who is called a monger.  I think those guys handle hate too, which should never be mixed in with your food.

But none of this seems to matter to my Catholic family and friends.  The Friday Night Fish Fry is a staple at every local parish basement or K of C hall and fish dinner specials are on the menu of every restaurant.  Yum.

Then there are the home-cooked meals.  I would really like to think that we as a society have progressed beyond the need to consume tuna casseroles.  I am no stranger to eating things from boxes and cans, but the line must be drawn somewhere.  I will concede that canned tuna is at least one way for me to get fish that is just as fresh as in the dusty cans on the shelf in San Diego.

So, you ask, how do I manage to survive Lent?  The answer is – cheese.  Lots and lots of cheese.  Cheese pizza, cheese sticks, cheese quesadillas, macaroni & cheese and the good old grilled cheese sandwich.  I suspect that the good dairy farmers of Wisconsin get a little fiscal bump from Yours Truly every time about this year.  You’re welcome.

There is also the humble tomato.  Spaghetti with tomato sauce and tomato soup are the time-tested ways to keep from over-cheesing myself.  Gourmet dining it is not, but Lenten beggars cannot be choosers.

I will also say that I can deal with shrimp which has been my last resort many a time.  Have you ever thought about what a wonderful gift Heinz Cocktail Sauce is to humanity?  Or better yet, the stuff from a local steakhouse that has enough horseradish in it to make you forget anything that might be under it.

I can just hear the occasional vegan reader snorting with disgust at my inability to do meatless in the proper way with tofu and sprouts and various healthful legumes.  I am not against the occasional bean or vegetable (though they are always better with bacon) but tofu is simply . . . well . . . if you can’t say anything nice, . . . .

The one bright spot to my meat-free Friday dilemma is that Easter rates a much bigger celebration in my book than it gets from most of my mackerel-snapping co-religionists.   The traditional trappings of Easter Sunday make for a great day (not to mention the religious angle, which is itself no small thing.)  But for me, the following Friday is when things really hit home.  You can have your chocolate bunnies and marshmallow peeps for Easter.  I will relish a Friday evening with the choice of every edible thing that dry land has to offer.


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13 thoughts on “A Lenten Lament

  1. There is nothing quite as satisfying as a chunk of red meat, especially if it’s wrapped with bacon. Yet I am compelled to ask….you mention tuna and shrimp while referencing other sea dwellers. Do you have the same (lack of) affinity about fresh water fare, such as catfish, bass, or crappie? Truth be told, I’m much happier with a plate full of crappie than I am with salmon, cod, tilapia, or halibut.

    Mrs. Jason has unintentionally discovered landfood is much tastier on Friday’s during Lent, likely from it being so taboo.


    • Good question on the freshwater v. saltwater thing. I guess it would be premature to say that I dislike all seafood since I have not tried all seafood. It just seems like it would save a lot of time, though.

      As I think about it, I once ate oysters on the half shell during a visit to New York. I don’t recall hating them, but then there was a lot of beer involved.


      • Beer was a wise choice to wash down the oysters. The one time I had oysters the texture overrode any taste I experienced. Let’s just say it wasn’t pleasant.


  2. Well there’s another good reason to be Reformed 🙂 We did have pancakes on Tuesday though.

    My Grandfather researched the family line back several hundred years and it’s amazing how many times the words “illiterate fisherman” shows up on the chart. I have managed to become literate, but I still like fish.


    • Haha, yes pancakes are always a viable option.
      All this makes me wonder who was brave enough to catch and eat a fish for the very first time? I would have figured that they were underwater for a reason.


      • Or hungry enough. Ever seen “Into the Wild”? I always wondered why the guy starved to death right next to a river but never seemed to do any fishing..

        Liked by 1 person

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  6. I always looked forward to Lent Fridays as we had fish and chips for supper. But on Good Friday my mother would fry thick slabs of Finnan and Haddy, which is like smoked haddock but very salty
    . That was the only time we ever had it, although as it was such a treat it it defeated the purpose of penance and self-sacrifice. I tried to find it a few years ago at the fish shop of major grocer retailer but the clerk told me they had so little call for it they stopped selling it, and tried to direct me to smoked cod which is not the same thing. Our KofC Good Friday pickerel dinner was cancelled, they were going to do takeout but now even that is cancelled.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You must be my lenten opposite. Fish frys and fish & chips surround me each year. Until this year, anyhow. Life would be so much easier if I liked them.

      The only time I ever heard of finan and haddie was in an old movie where someone ordered it in a restaurant. I had no idea what it was and actually looked it up.

      Liked by 1 person

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