Who knew abstinence could taste so good? Around the world, Christians are fasting and reflecting as they observe Lent, the 40-day period that leads up to Easter. For many, Lent means forgoing meat on Fridays.
Churches historically have eased the pain by holding Lenten fish-fry dinners, complete with some combination of coleslaw, macaroni and cheese, potatoes, green beans, salad, rolls, lemonade and dessert.
The dinners raise money for the sponsoring group -- often the Knights of Columbus -- and are a seasonal event anticipated by parishioners.
"It becomes the fingerprint of some of these parish communities," says Rebecca Summers, communications director for the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph in Missouri.
The final Lenten meal, featuring five soups for $5 per person, at St. Joseph's Catholic Church on Oakdale Road in Modesto, is scheduled for Friday.
The Knights of Columbus, which will host the soup supper, also had three fish fries, a Saturday crab feed and a shrimp feed. The fish dinners attracted anywhere from 420 to 560 people.
"We get a few people who ask for baked fish, but most people prefer the deep-fried fish," said Grand Knight Pat Ryan.