Saturday, February 27, 2010

2nd Week of Lent: Immaculate Conception, Clintonville

The age-old question:  Why don’t the Catholics think that fish is meat?  Surely, most vegetarians and all vegans think that fish is meat.  After a bit of research on the internet today I found out there are a variety of answers from the very esoteric to the heretical.  The truth is in there somewhere.  On pages written by the theologians, it was very deep and murky, and there was some suggestion that it had something to do with the pope’s mistress in the middle ages withholding her favors until her fisherman husband was able to sell more fish.  Hmmm!  What seems to make the most sense is that it stems from fasting and abstinence and, unlike the modern, western idea of fasting by eating nothing but fruit juice and water traditionally it was about spending time in contemplation and minimalist diet, meaning only what your body needs. This comes from a time when meat was expensive and reserved for those wealthy enough to have their own cattle or purchase it in the market. Peasants were able to provide their own fish and vegetables without any expense. So, therefore fish is not a sacrifice to eat or to abstain from.
It seems that in the 1960 the churches started to recognized that more mothers were working and the community dinner started to take hold and thus the Catholic Church Fish Fry!  Another interesting tidbit the Filet o’ fish at McDonalds started as a result of Catholic’s abstinence from meat on Fridays. One of the Franchisees started the practice and got into trouble with the company founder Ray Croc. After a debate they held a sales contest between the Filet o’ fish and Crock’s sandwich made from pineapple rings. Guess which one won!
This week our family was joined by one of our Catholic friends, B, as we headed out to Immaculate Conception on North Broadway in Clintonville. Friday night was a very snowy and icy evening but we braved our way and I.C. is the closest Catholic Church to our house.
One interesting difference we noticed this week is that I.C. is set up more like a restaurant.  Your enter the building and there is the order and pay station but from there you are seated by a hostess at large round tables that you may be expected to share with other families. Your tickets are collected from you and then you are served your dinner by a “waiter”.  They may bring you drinks or you may serve yourself.
Their offerings were similar to what we had had the previous week. Your options were Adult Fish dinner, Child Fish dinner or Macaroni and Cheese dinner.   You could also purchase extra fish.  On the beverage side B and T were able to indulge in a beer from Columbus Brewing Company for $3.50, Soda was $1.00 and lemon aid was free. Desserts were also offered with one option being Dairy Queen soft serve with one topping for $1.00. Our total for the five of us before the beer was $36.
T, D, B and F all ordered adult fish dinners and Z ordered the Macaroni and Cheese.  Our fish dinners were served with two pieces of fish, steak fries, coleslaw, green beans, and a roll. Z’s macaroni and cheese was served with one piece of fish, apple sauce and a roll. The fish was nice and hot and very good.  We were not very impressed with the steak fries though we did eat them all. There was a 50/50 split on the coleslaw. I like mine creamier and this was on the more tart side.  I would give them a bonus points for the green beans, but they were of the institutional variety, as in canned from the school cafeteria, but they had a vegetable!  Z ate her macaroni and cheese so fast that no one else could try it and declared it was very good, not too cheesy.  That’s a good thing for Z as she doesn’t like cheese clumps in her Mac and cheese. Once again we missed out on dessert. We had lots of Girl Scout Cookies at home calling us!
Overall, we would recommend Immaculate Conception’s fish fry. The food and atmosphere was very nice and they get added points from the beer drinkers! It would have been nice to have a glass of wine. 
Next week:  St. Catherine’s in Whitehall

Friday, February 26, 2010

1st week of Lent: St Michael's, Worthington

Perhaps it was our two years living in New Zealand; our family loves a good fish fry.  For the most part we tell people we are vegetarians because it’s easier than explaining what a pescetarian is.  We may never know the joys of a good kumara fry here in the States, but the traditional Catholic Fish Fry during Lent allows us to revel in our memories and create new ones.  Because we are not Catholic we are not “restricted” to only patronizing our local parish, so we have in the past sampled various F.F.’s in our area. Of course we have our favorites for various reasons but we thought it was time to share our reviews on the F.F. and perhaps other dining pleasures in the future.
First you should know who we are: T, dad, though a vegetarian when I married him will eat anything with the exception of beets and I frequently find him treating the dog to bits of contraband ham he’s has brought into our house. He will also order red meat pretty much every chance he gets when dining out.
F, oldest and son, an adventurous eater with a mostly vegetarian diet but that didn’t keep him from trying snails in France. He will try most things but has strong opinions about what is edible.
Z, youngest and daughter, is a much pickier eater. She hasn’t eaten meat since she was four, 7 years ago.  She also is not a big fan of fried fish so she is our taster of the alternate dishes.
Finally D, me the mom, I love lots of different types of food, but limit as much as possible my intake of meat to the occasional splurge on seafood.
For our first Friday F.F. the four of us ventured to St. Michael’s on High St. in  Worthington. This is one of the two that we have visited many times over the years so it made sense that we review them first. St. Michael’s is run by the Knights of Columbus and one of the best parts is seeing grown men run around in funny fish hats. They offer several dinner options: Large Fish, Small Fish, and Macaroni and Cheese. All of their dinners come with french fries, apple sauce or coleslaw, a role and either soft drink or coffee. The side dishes and beverages have free refills. Also available for an additional charge are New England style clam chowder, extra fish and dessert. You pay when you enter the building but you do have the option of purchasing extra tickets once you are in the hall.
The meal is served in a cafeteria style. You take your tickets through the line and you are served your meal in carryout style containers. You then seat yourself in long table similar to my high school cafeteria. T, F and I all got the large fish dinner with three pieces of fish and coleslaw. Z had the Macaroni and Cheese with apple sauce. T also ordered the Clam Chowder. 
The three of fish eaters all thought the fish was hot and delicious with a nice crisp batter. We especially like the thin fries, also served hot. Hot fries are very important to me and on the few occasions that I treat myself to McDonalds fries at the drive through I will turn around and go back in and complain if they aren’t served hot. This is under the theory that if I’m going to eat something that really isn’t good for me it better taste good. The coleslaw was the creamy variety and we all enjoyed it. Z gave the Mac and cheese a thumbs up, though she thought my home made is better. It did look a lot like Velveeta. T tried it and wasn’t too impressed. T, F and Z all tried the chowder and thought it was good but had too many potatoes and T didn’t think he had a single clam in any that he ate. Since we were all very full none of us had dessert though they looked homemade and inviting.
The prices are as follows: Large Fish $7.50 and the Mac and Cheese $5.00. The Clam Chowder was $1.00. Our total family expense was $29.
Over all we enjoyed our dinner and the main attraction, the fish and chips, was very good. We would definitely recommend enjoying a dinner there.