Feb 16, 2024 - Food and Drink

Lenten fish fries are back in New Orleans

Animated illustration of a styrofoam takeout container opening and light shining out of it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

You've seen the signs: small, corrugated plastic beacons stuck into the neutral ground or whole banners slung from the fronts of churches, beckoning you to visit and promising deliciousness on Friday evenings.

  • Lenten fish fries are back, baby.

Why it matters: The weekly Friday ritual is a core way Louisianans practice Lenten traditions, swapping meat for fish at suppertime and contributing to area church and Catholic school fundraisers in the process.

What's happening: Churches, schools, social halls and even some restaurants get in on the action every Friday through Lent, offering fried fish and other seafood specials throughout the season.

  • The setup changes from location to location. You might have to park and be ready to chat with your neighbors, or get in line for a drive-thru style sale, before getting your hands on a seafood-stuffed Styrofoam clamshell.
  • Prices typically range from around $10 for children's plates to $20 for soft shell crabs or shrimp, but rising seafood costs in recent years have caused a jump in prices.

Be smart: Lent begins annually on Ash Wednesday and marks a traditional period of austerity and restraint lasting 40 days, excluding Sundays.

  • The season represents a period of preparation before Easter.

Meanwhile: Wondering about alligator? Totally OK during Lent, according to Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond.

  • "God has created a magnificent creature that is important to the state of Louisiana, and it is considered seafood," Aymond once wrote in a letter to a concerned parishioner, according to NPR.

Go deeper: See the Archdiocese of New Orleans' list of 2024 Lenten fish fries.

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