Are you worrying about Lent? Thinking about giving up video games or tequila or marathon running? Considering making a sacrifice of your gardening, or those excursions to WalMart, or spinach and ortolan foam? Last year NPR reported that an archbishop once gave a useful and helpful ruling. It reminds me of those rulings that find it’s halal for men to “marry” women for 15 minutes.
Catholics abstain from eating meat on Fridays during the time between Ash Wednesday and Easter, but seafood is allowed. Three years ago, when Jim Piculas was trying to settle a debate among his friends about whether gator qualified as seafood, he wrote a letter to the archbishop of New Orleans to ask.
His letter must have been pretty zealous, because not long after he wrote it, he got a response from Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond saying: “Yes, the alligator’s considered in the fish family, and I agree with you — God has created a magnificent creature that is important to the state of Louisiana, and it is considered seafood.”
Artful use of the passive voice there; artful elimination of the all-important agent who does the considering the alligator in the fish family. I suspect the agent in question is the archbishop himself. In the active voice that would have read: “Yes, I consider the alligator in the fish family, and I agree with you, it’s tasty as fuck.”
Ever since the archbishop wrote to Piculas in 2010, the letter has been on the wall of the gift shop at Insta-Gator Ranch. This year, Piculas posted it on Facebook, and it went from being shared hundreds of times to making the news.
Articles on eating gator for Lent popped up everywhere, from CatholicFoodie.com to the Catholic News Agency. The extra gator marketing this Lenten season has been a welcome thing for Parkway and other restaurants in the city — like Cochon, with its fried alligator, and Jacques-Imo’s, which serves alligator cheesecake.
And so, slowly but surely, and with no hindrance from the public broadcaster NPR, a nation comes to believe that alligators are fish.