Although the weather has been unpredictable this March, one thing you can count on is the omnipresent Fish Fry dinners offered on Fridays, primarily at area Catholic churches.
My wife and I went to three different dinners on Fridays in March, and thought they were all good and interesting. All were similar in terms of what you could get — mainly fried fish fillets, French fries, coleslaw, macaroni and cheese. Desserts were sold separately in a bake sale. People at each swore that theirs was the best dinner. The meals cost roughly the same, too: $10 per person.
However, each Fry had its little quirks.
The first Fish Fry we attended was March 2 at St. Paul Catholic Church in Westerville. This had the longest line, out the door, and the longest wait. You paid first, while being tempted with a bowl of chowder. Once you figured out the system, you grabbed an orange pylon and went to a table. This pylon wasn’t for road construction — it meant you were waiting for your order to be taken by a Knights of Columbus volunteer. The volunteer brought your tray with what you ordered and took the cone away. We were pretty hungry, so we ate dessert before our pylon got removed.
Next was St. John Neumann in Sunbury on March 9. There seemed to be the most room here, and we spent the least time in line. Grab a tray, point at what you want (applesauce, yum), turn around and pay up. Here you could also get a can of pop instead of lemonade and iced tea. We had arrived towards the end of the event, and we felt rushed to eat because the Men’s Club volunteers were tearing down tables around us.
On March 23, we went to the Fish Fry offered by the Blendon Masonic Lodge on State Street in Westerville. The back door was open, so we went in, only to find that we should have entered from the front door. We paid for our meals, were given tickets, and stood in a long line that snaked all the way along the first floor. There was a cheerful chaos as people wandered around and you weren’t sure if you were in line. You dropped your tickets into a basket, grabbed a tray, and told the servers what you wanted. The dining hall was packed, and there was plenty of hot sauce.
So what is the purpose of what some call “Fishy Fridays”? They are good fundraising opportunities, a chance to visit with fellow parishioners, and an inexpensive dinner. However, they have religious import — in the Roman Catholic tradition, meat and meat products should be abstained during the 40 days of Lent, but fish was allowed on Fridays before the crucifixion of Jesus on Good Friday. Some sober commentators have suggested these events should be more of a fast than a feast, but the Fish Fry endures.