Fish fries are a time-honored tradition among Catholics

By Stefano DiPietrantonio – bio |email

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX10) - In Price Hill and in areas all over the Tri-State, it was time to get their fish fryers fired-up for the first Friday of the Lenten Season.

FOX 19 took a look at why Catholics observe this time-honored tradition.

"Ya' gotta have the fried fish," said Steve Laird, one of the organizers of a massive fish fry at St. William Catholic Church. "It's kind of a Catholic West Side tradition."

And a tradition with Catholics all over the world: eating fish on Fridays during Lent and abstaining from eating red meat.

"These are solid cod filets, so they're not processed, they have a tavern beer batter in 'em," said Laird.

St. Williams expects to move about 2-hundred pounds of fish every Friday. That's a lotta cod.

"Any clue what kind of money you guy's pull in?," FOX 19 asked. "Uhhh, I don't know," said Laird. "Is the IRS listening?," he joked.

Laird said they're using higher quality products, so it's not about making a ton of money.

"We look at this more of a community thing," said Laird. "To get people together."

"What do you charge?" FOX 19 asked. "7 dollars for a 3-piece fish meal," said Laird, "So you get roughly 9 ounces of fish."

"You could put two kids in front of one of these platters and feed 'em both nicely," he said.

There are tons of deep-fried fish, crinkle cut french fries, and hush puppies.

"This is our fry center," said Laird. "This is the backbone of getting the french fries out."

"50 pounds of fries sounds like an awful lot of calories, yeh well as long as you don't eat 'em and somebody else does it's all good," said Laird.

There are also heart-healthy choices.

"Mr. Tuttle here is working on the Tilapia," said Laird. "We have a lemon pepper Tilapia."

"Oh my!" exclaimed one of the volunteers as she found our camera staring her in the eye.

Oh yes, there's plenty of everything at the St. William fish fry. It hardly feels like giving anything up for Lent.

"While it's not too much of a sacrifice, if we bread it, fry it and everything, or bake it if we like it," said Father Andrew Umberg.

"So are we really abstaining or are we just going through the motions?"

That is a good question," he said. "And ya' know the first time someone boiled a lobster on a Friday of lent I wondered if they asked themselves the same thing."

The Catholic Church still recommends abstinence on all Fridays of the year, not just during Lent.

"It's encouraged all the time," Umberg said. "Every Friday, and people can make acts of penance any time."

Amen to that father!. Amen to that!

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