The Lenten calendar leading up to Easter is an important season for Christians here in Alabama. But it’s also a particularly significant event for Alabama’s seafood industry.
For those of the Catholic faith, Lent is focused on abstaining from meat on Fridays and holy days during the 40-day period. That means at least seven days this spring when observers will have to do without meat.
In this instance, though, “meat” doesn’t include animals that come from bodies of water. That’s where Alabama Gulf Seafood comes in.
In March and April, eateries all over the state 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 provide fresh Gulf seafood of all types, from Whole Foods and Piggly Wiggly in Birmingham to Rouses Markets in Lower Alabama.
For Catholics on the Gulf Coast, you’ve got even more options available. Residents and visitors alike can walk into retailers and wholesalers like Skinner’s Seafood on Dauphin Island and Windmill Market in Fairhope and walk out with shrimp and oysters by the sackful, as well as fresh fish and lump crabmeat, among other options.
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. Embracing this aspect of “supper” means meals shared at home can be just as soul-stirring as those shared in public.
As you might already know, enjoying our state’s coastal bounty is an especially communal activity, too. Lent is the perfect time for a fish fry, a crab and shrimp boil, or an oyster cook-out. It’s 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’s 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.
Whether in fellowship halls or neighborhood backyards or picnic tables, we’re proud to know that Alabama Gulf Seafood will be served all throughout the state during the season of Lent. Enjoy this time of sacrifice and reflection, and have a wonderful Easter Sunday, y’all.