Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Fish Fry Fridays March 28, 2014

GROWING UP LUTHERAN, I knew Catholics couldn’t eat meat on Fridays during Lent. They ate fish. I never understood that because I consider fish to be meat.

But, still Lutheran today, I respect the Catholic Friday Fish Fry tradition.

Photographed in Omro, Wisconsin, eight miles west of Oshkosh along the Fox River.

Photographed in Omro, Wisconsin, eight miles west of Oshkosh along the Fox River.

This time of year, you’ll see advertisements and signs galore calling the faithful to feast on fish on Fridays.

These weekly Lenten fish fries should also remind believers of their calling to be, like Jesus’ disciples, fishers of men (and women and children). If I remember my bible facts correctly, Andrew, Peter, James and John were fishermen by profession and fishermen by discipleship.

Throughout scripture, you will find numerous references to fish, beginning with the beginning. In Genesis 1:26, God says:

“Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

What a great responsibility.

Then there’s the story of Jonah being swallowed by a great fish. I remember as a child reading Sunday School bible lessons and how impressed I was by this. To think that the prophet Jonah would be swallowed by a whale, remain in the whale’s belly for three days and then be spit out alive seemed pretty miraculous to me.

And that’s exactly as it should have seemed. The apostle Matthew writes in the gospel of Matthew, chapter 12:40:

For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

Jonah’s experience connects to Christ’s resurrection from the dead after the third day, as explained by Matthew.

At VFW Post 2778 in Appleton, Wisconsin, they apparently attempt to feed the masses as the Friday Fish Fry runs from 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.

At VFW Post 2778 in Appleton, WI., they apparently attempt to feed the masses as the Friday Fish Fry runs from 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Finally, the other significant mention of fish imprinted upon my memory comes in the feeding of the 4,000 and the 5,000 plus. On both occasions, Jesus multiplied miniscule portions of bread and fish to feed the masses:

Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children. (Matthew 14: 19-21)

I think Jesus would have appreciated a Friday Fish Fry.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


21 Responses to “Fish Fry Fridays”

  1. Dan Traun Says:

    Yay! Firday Fish Fry. I do miss them somewhat. I don’t care for heavy batter though (all the oil – ick). You can find establishments that offer barely battered. I haven’t been to a really good one in years. My wife and I have done a pretty radical diet change and this would not be on the menu in deep-fat-fried form :-/

  2. Beth Ann Says:

    I think you are right. I think he would have been right there in the middle, sleeves rolled up, serving fish to all. 🙂

  3. Having been raised Catholic, I grew up eating fish on Fridays and it wasn’t until I was an adult that I questioned the no-meat rule for allowing fish. It’s all in what you’re taught as a small child, right? Anyway, given that we were also taught the story of the loaves and fishes miracle, it makes sense to me that we would only eat fish and no other meat on Fridays. “No meat” was probably a PR mistake!

  4. Nothing better than a Fish Fry and Gathering as a Community!!! Happy Weekend:)

  5. Jackie Says:

    I do not eat any kind of seafood at all, dont like the texture and cant get past the smell. I think it stems back to when grandma put the lutefisk on the table for Christmas dinner ewwww! Having said that, I’m sure I wouldnt have thought twice about eating the fish that Jesus multiplied to feed the thousands 🙂

  6. shalilah2002 Says:

    Thank you for that bit of information and the verses on fish. As a Catholic I grew up eating fish on Friday. I still practiced that until a priest told me that law had changed.

  7. Deanna Auge Says:

    We have fish twice a week, canned fish and/or salmon, making sure it is never on a day we are expecting company. I fry it in a little butter. Very tasty and so good for one’s health.

  8. treadlemusic Says:

    The Midwest’s fish consumption is the highest of anywhere in the U.S.! DH used to truck fish from Gloucester, MA, (Gorton’s) back here and those were the ‘stats’ he was told. Note: he trucked meat OUT there (from Austin)! Love “Friday fish”!!!!

  9. hotlyspiced Says:

    I grew up in NZ where there seemed to be a fish n chip shop in every corner. Every Friday the Catholics would queue outside the shop for their family dinner. We were Methodist and we didn’t have the ‘no meat on Friday rule’ but when I saw the fish and chip shop on Friday’s, I used to wish we did xx

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