The Lenten season leading up to Easter is often defined by sacrifice, meditation, and charity. But the Christian observation is also fertile ground for culinary exploration and celebration.
For 40 days, folks are called to regulate their portions, abstain from eating meat on Fridays and holy days, and do something positive for others. And with seven meat-free Fridays included in Lent, Alabama Gulf Seafood can play a role in accomplishing each of those tenets of the season.
Eateries all over the state will feature menus spotlighting every manifestation of Gulf seafood. And for those who’d prefer to try out new recipes for themselves, grocery stores in every corner of Alabama can provide fresh Gulf seafood of all types, from Whole Foods and Piggly Wiggly in Birmingham to the brand new Rouses Markets locations in South Alabama.
Coastal Alabama boasts an even greater luxury. Residents and visitors alike can walk into any number of retailers, small and large, and purchase the fresh seafood only moments from the nets that caught them. Places like Skinner’s Seafood on Dauphin Island and Windmill Market in Fairhope offer shrimp and oysters by the sackful, as well as fresh fish and lump crabmeat, among others.
With superior ingredients in hand, the humble and hungry masses celebrating Lent are free to let their imaginations run wild. Discovering the variety of fresh, local Alabama Gulf Seafood can expose individuals and families to new delicacies and locales, and put the focus back on taking time to break bread together, instead of just rushing to eat as quickly as possible and move on to the next item on the day’s schedule. And embracing that aspect of “supper” means meals shared at home can be just as soul-stirring as those shared in public.
It is well known by those who love the state’s coastal bounty that enjoying Gulf Coast seafood is an especially communal activity, and the greater the imagination, the greater that enjoyment. In dining rooms and backyards all over the state, fresh seafood will take on a greater significance through Easter Sunday, April 16.
The Lenten season is the perfect time for fish fries, crab and shrimp boils, and oyster cook-outs. It is a time for tablecloths made of newspaper, meals served family-style, and a faith-driven fellowship that permeates the culture of those who open themselves up to it.
Not to mention there are few more charitable gestures than offering someone a place at a loving table and food for body and soul.
It is no surprise that, for centuries, the sea has served those devoted to signifying the Lenten season. Before they were “fishers of men,” the saints described in the Bible were fishermen, casting nets into their coastal waters to feed families and strangers alike. And while times may change over generations and geography, some things never do.