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Fish, Fresh from the Gulf, Hungry for Louisiana, Lent

Fridays are getting’ fishy: succulent salmon en papillote for Lent

Lent in the Bayou State cracks me up.

Here in heavily Catholic south Louisiana, there’s a rush to self-sacrifice every Ash Wednesday, the day after Fat Tuesday. Lots of people give stuff up — from chocolate to gossip to alcohol — to signify their piety and, for sure, to make up for the sins of Carnival. And the other big part of the Lenten experience is the Friday meat fast, when burgers and pepperoni pizza are out, and fish of all sorts is the seasonal rockstar.

What this means for all of us, Catholic or not, is that Friday restaurant menus are dripping in delicious, creative and indulgent seafood dishes using local crawfish, crab, seafood and fin fish.

What sacrifice. Poor us.

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Lent, Louisiana, Shrimp

Lent: Restraint tastes good in Louisiana

Lent may be the season of restraint, but in Louisiana, it’s become 40 days of seafood-centric culinary creativity. From backyard boiled crawfish to indulgent chef’s specials on Fridays, there’s no shortage of good eats wrapped up in all that contemplation and sober self-sacrifice.

Last Friday — the first Friday of Lent this year, I dropped by Tony’s Seafood in Baton Rouge to check out the action. Even though it was mid-afternoon, the hot food line at Tony’s was still 25 deep. Bummer. I didn’t have time to wait for the fried catfish snack and trio of boudin balls I’d been fantasizing about driving up I-110. “Man. Look at that line,” I said to the guy bagging up my fresh shrimp. And as if it required no other explanation (even at 3:30 in the afternoon) he said, “Well, it is Lent.”

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