Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Ash Wednesday - and a fish salad

Today is March 1st,  and this year it is also Ash Wednesday.

So Happy March and, well, I'm not going to wish you a happy Lent, but I do hope you have a blessed one that is spiritually rewarding.

One of my students was telling me today of the big ceremony they'd had at her church last weekend, locking the Hallelujah banner in a dark crate to keep until it was reopened on Easter. I'd never heard of that tradition, but it seemed very dramatic and it certainly made an impression on her!

So, fish on Ash Wednesday and Fridays.

When I was growing up, eating fish on Fridays (or at least abstaining from meat) was still a regulation (All Fridays, not just during Lent). My husband and I always eat fish on Fridays, not because of any rule, but because we like fish (and maybe family tradition).

So, that got me pondering. If we are supposed to eat fish - to abstain from eating meat - as a penance or sacrifice, what happens when you actually like fish better than meat?

I mean giving up meat on Fridays isn't much of a sacrifice for a person who doesn't really eat it.

And the fish - I mean really - fried fish???  How is that a penance? It's delicious!!!!!

So, I decided to look up some information, and I stumbled across a review of this book.

Why Do Catholics Eat Fish on Friday?: The Catholic Origin to Just About Everything

I love the Amazon description:
Did you know that the origins of Groundhog Day stem from a Catholic tradition? Or that the common pretzel was once a Lenten reward for the pious? Why Do Catholics Eat Fish on Friday is a fascinating guide to the roots of all-things-Catholic. This smart and concise guide will introduce readers to the hidden heritage in many commonplace things that make up contemporary life. The reader-friendly format and the illuminating entries will make this guide a perfect gift for Catholics and anyone who loves a bit of historic trivia.

The review also contained this gem that answered the Why Fish question.

Technically, it's the flesh of warmblooded animals that's off limits — an animal "that, in a sense, sacrificed its life for us, if you will," explains Michael Foley, an associate professor at Baylor University and author of Why Do Catholics Eat Fish On Friday?
Fish are coldblooded, so they're considered fair game. "If you were inclined to eat a reptile on Friday, you could do that, too."

Um, Fried snake anyone????

And DO NOT come on here telling me it's a "southern thing" or a "Texas thing" or I may, I don't know. Scream or something. The idea of eating reptiles, *SHUDDER*.

I guess that would be doing penance!

Okay, so I decided I would try to find a healthy fish recipe to share that did not involve frying, because you know, tradition says we used up all the fat in the house on Mardi Gras.

Actually, confession time. I made this last week because I had some salad that was on its last legs and I'd just gotten some lovely haddock.  But I decided it really would be the perfect Lenten dish.

Except for the pomegranates. I'm still not convinced that it wasn't a pomegranate Eve used to tempt Adam. 

So here goes ~

If you have some lettuce that is wilting, this is a great use. I just dry roasted it briefly to crisp it up.

If your lettuce is fresh, you could easily make the salad with just the uncooked lettuce.

Next, my broiled haddock. Um, it did have butter and lemon on it. I feel like that merits a deduction. (Trying very hard not to sound sacrilegious here).

The lemon made a sort of dressing. I sprinkled pomegranate arils on top because I found a bargain of super, extra-ripe, end of season pomegranates last week.

Doesn't it look pretty?

It tasted delicious.

Which may defeat the point of fish on Fridays.

Anyone have a good reptile recipe?


  1. I have to laugh at the reptile recipe idea! Although rattlesnake was a popular dish when we lived in West Texas. Never did eat it, and I doubt I ever will unless I'm desperate. ;)

    Your haddock salad looks amazing! I'll have to try it for lunch...with canned tuna, since there's no other fish in the house.

  2. Thanks for commenting, Jan.
    I had a bad feeling they probably ate some kind of snake down in Texas. Probably a delicacy.

    I hope your salad turned out well.

  3. This looks marvelous, Cate. I love haddock, broiled, blackened, fried, etc. SO GOOD!!!! But yes, I would be frying it, there's nothing like fresh fried haddock.... oh mylanta, it's one of my all time favorite meals. So I feel kind of guilty that I enjoy fish on Fridays, but then I realize I eat a lot of things I don't necessarily love to stay in shape... so probably God's okay with me loving fish!!!

    I did Mass this morning at a Catholic school, surrounded by kids. Oh happy day!!!

    I love Lent. I love that we haven't messed it up or commercialized it, and that Easter is still a sacred holy day, a day of wonders.

    A blessed Lent to you, my friend!!!

    1. I'm smiling because I had Mass surrounded by several hundred children too. So blessed.

      And I'm with you on the fried haddock. One of my most favorite dishes in Maine each summer.

  4. And we did tuna for supper tonight. Aren't we blessed to have such things on grocery shelves?

  5. I'm sorry, Mary Cate, eating snake is just plain wrong. Disgusting, gross, nasty... Even my snake-loving son would agree, only because it would mean the snake is dead.

    Baptists don't do lent, but that doesn't mean I don't enjoy some yummy fish. Fried, grilled, baked, as long as its moist and flavorful, I'm in. We have some friends at the ranch who always do a big catfish fry on Good Friday. YUM!

    Okay, all this talk about fish had me craving salmon. It hasn't been on sale since Christmas. Must find some.

    1. I can't tell you how relieved I am to read this reply, Mindy. Phew. Friendship intact.

      I wondered about others doing Lent. I know some Lutheran friends do. Maybe Methodists. I saw a thread on FB today asking about different denominations and the practice of Ash Wednesday, but I wasn't sure if it applied to all of Lent.

  6. We do Ash Wednesday services in the United Methodist Church. They're always very meaningful to me.

    I love fish. And I love salads. But the only fish I've ever had on salads are tuna (from a can, not fresh), and grilled salmon. I guess it's time I tried some other kind of fish on my salad. :)

    I love the idea of roasting wilty lettuce! Reminds me a little of kale chips. I haven't made them in ages.

    1. I loved my roommate's United Methodist Church services during Lent. They also had Maundy Thursday, which we called Holy Thursday. We'd alternate services so we didn't miss anything! Of course, we were both in the choirs, so we loved being part of the music, too.

  7. Heehee! See, we can get some pretty good fish here an we love our fish recipes, so I agree, sometimes the fish isn't really a sacrifice. We just bake some bread and have some soup. Nothing fancy. Nothing in between meals. Ash Wednesday services. Mindfulness and a solemn attitude. (Ok, we try on that last one but we don't always succeed.)