Almost two decades ago, friends invited us to their Good Friday seafood dinner, which they’d organized to celebrate the opening of spring. We were greeted with seafood on the grill, decadent dishes in the oven and a bubbling, buttery Alfredo sauce simmering on the stove that would soon melt over a steaming shrimp and asparagus fettuccine. This would definitely beat the parish fish fry. The next year, we partygoers decided to assemble not just on Good Friday but every Friday during Lent. House-hopping each week through northwestern Pennsylvania, we dined on seafood quiche around Uncle George’s pool or king crab legs with melted butter, clams and corn straight off Dad’s backyard fire pit.
Word spread, and, like the sprawling buffet, the crowd multiplied each year. What began as a small family-and-friends gathering has grown today into a party of dozens who flocked to experience the glorious menu themselves. In the beginning, I worried what the priests might say if they caught us with icy drinks and culinary extravagances spilling off our plates during a season meant for reflection and repentance. Then one year some of the priests showed up, and I realized this was exactly how we’d been instructed to live. Why not enjoy the gifts we’ve been given and the rich company of one another? Amen.
By Kristine Gasbarre, a food writer in DuBois, Penn.