Polly Protestant: Hey, Katie, do you want to go out for dinner tonight? I'm feeling like I want a good, juicy steak! I'd love for you to come with me.
Katie Catholic: Um, sure, but can we go somewhere where they serve fish? It's Friday, and I can't eat meat on Fridays.
Polly Protestant: Why is it exactly that Catholics don't eat meat on Friday's anyway? What's up with that?
Katie Catholic: Um, I'm not really sure of the particulars - I just know that abstaining from meat on Friday's is something we are asked by the Church to do. (yes, I know the curernt regulations allow one to substitue a penance or prayer)
Would you be able to answer that question appropriately? From the dawn of Christianity, Friday has been signalized as an abstinence day, in order to do homage to the memory of Christ suffering and dying on that day of the week. The Baltimore Catechism teaches us that all flesh meat, including meat soup and gravies are forbidden on days of abstinence. Flesh meat is the meat of all warm-blooded land animals, including birds and fowls, so unless one is excused or dispensed, they are obliged to observe the abstinence days of the Church.
The Church, in her wisdom, commands Catholics to abstain from meat in order to control the desires of the flesh, to raise our minds more freely to God, and to make satisfaction for sin. We are to deny ourselves, not because meat is evil, but for the glory of God and the good of our souls. It is a good practice to meditate on the Passion of Christ when we are fasting or abstaining, so that we can best induce in ourselves a proper contrition for our sins. The Baltimore Catechism teaches that fast and abstinence are pleasing to God only when we also refrain from sin and engage in good works.
Here is an absolutely fantastic, easy to prepare recipe from Chatelaine Magazine that is now my favourite fish dinner. It is so good that I wonder if it really is penance to eat fish on Fridays. I am making it tonight because we have company over, but usually I try to make a really plain meal on Fridays.
Cooking time 30 minutes
- 2 salmon steaks , at least 1 in. (2.5 cm) thick
- 2 tbsp (30 mL) granulated sugar
- 4 tsp (20 mL) maple syrup
- 1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) water
- 1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) vegetable or olive oil
- 1 tbsp (15 mL) fish sauce
- 3/4 tsp (4 mL) hot red-pepper flakes
- 1 garlic clove , minced
- 1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) cracked black pepper
- 1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) fried shallots
- 2 tbsp (30 mL) chopped cilantro
- 1 green onion , thinly sliced
- Pat salmon steaks dry with paper towels. Place fish on a plate or in a dish. Evenly sprinkle with 1½ tsp (7 mL) granulated sugar. Turn fish and sprinkle opposite side with another 1½ tsp (7 mL) sugar. Refrigerate, uncovered, at least 30 min.
- When ready to cook, stir remaining 1 tbsp (15 mL) sugar with maple syrup and water in a large frying pan (not non-stick) set over medium-high heat. As soon as it starts to bubble, stir in oil, fish sauce, pepper flakes and garlic. Reduce heat to medium. Add sugar-coated salmon. Sprinkle half of cracked black pepper over fish. Turn fish, then sprinkle with remaining black pepper. Reduce heat to low. Simmer, uncovered, turning fish halfway through and stirring sauce often, until caramelized, 25 to 30 min.
- Remove salmon steaks to warm plates (or to a hotpot dish) and sprinkle with fried shallots, cilantro and green onion. Delicious served with jasmine rice.