Order a catfish po-boy or a few pounds of crawfish in Acadiana any Friday between Mardi Gras and Easter, and you may be surprised to learn that your delight is another person’s sacrifice. The Catholic tradition of abstaining from meat during Fridays in Lent is alive and well in Southwest Louisiana, a region where more than a third identify as Catholic. Thanks to the long list of Catholic churches and restaurants that roll out an array of delectable seafood options on Lenten Fridays, it’s not much of a burden. St. Francis of Assisi in Breaux Bridge and the Knights of Columbus Council at St. Pius X in Lafayette both have long-standing Lenten fish fry traditions that bring together their communities and welcome anyone hungry for fried catfish, regardless of religion. Olde Tyme Grocery in Lafayette sells close to 2,300 seafood po-boys during the 40-day period. Religious abstinence never tasted so good.   

The episode was reported and produced by Sarah Holtz. Sarah is an independent radio producer and documentary artist based in New Orleans.

This is the second of five podcast episodes that are part of our virtual Cajun Country Summer Field Trip. We thank McIlhenny Company, maker of TABASCO Brand pepper sauces,  for their support in producing this batch of Gravy, and underwriting soon-to-be-shared oral histories and a new mobile app.

Further Reading and Listening

NPR: Lust, Lies And Empire 

A guide to the 2020 Lenten Fish Fries that would have been

Where Y’Eat: At Lenten Fish Fries, A Humble Dish Finds New Power