If it swims, it’s fish

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.




  1. moleatthecounter says

    No, crocodiles are fish… Alligators are virtually human.

    Have you not heard of the new Aligatorhood Act?

    As any fule no.

  2. NitricAcid says

    That’s nothing new- centuries ago, beavers and capybaras were considered fish because they swam, and could be eaten on Fridays. Monastaries kept hutches of rabbits because a rabbit that was young enough was considered sufficiently fishy to be eaten on Fridays. They also used fish-shaped Jello-moulds to make meat loaf in.

  3. calipso says

    At least it is in the cold blooded family. There was a question on the Bulgarian “Who wants to be a millionaire” – Which animal the orthodox church calls a fish and … it is a young rabbit, which apparently is allowed to be eaten during fasting where every other meat is forbidden.

  4. says

    Meh. It’s silly and all, but folk taxonomies are not obliged to track biological affinities, and religious dietary prohibitions even less so. The respective priorities are not the same.

  5. Anthony K says

    Humans swim, so……

    …so SoyLent Green is an ideal meat substitute for today’s Catholic-on-the-go awaiting the dietary freedom of Easter. It’s right there in the name.

  6. iknklast says

    Ah, well, in a world where the Supreme Court can declare the tomato a vegetable, in spite of all the botany books that have been written, why can’t the church declare an alligator a fish? The two groups of “wise” men have approximately the same level of training in biology – that is to say, none.

  7. latsot says

    What about marine iguanas? At least they’re made of food and live in the sea, which seems to me a better definition of seafood than ‘shit that swims’. And they look delicious. I’ve lost sight of whether I’m advocating eating them or not.

  8. sailor1031 says

    NPR you say? Well, yeah! I gave up NPR for lent several years ago. Never missed it.
    BTW the good bishop should know that seafood is also haram for bible-believing xtians – which catholics claim to be.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *