A day of humility. A day of reflection. A day to converge in a church basement and devour fried fish and beer.
Churches all over St. Louis mark the beginning of Lent today with traditional Vatican II-friendly dinners open to the public. In return for a few bucks, expect fried and baked fish, fried shrimp and less pescavorian options like mac & cheese, spaghetti, and cheese pizza, all served cafeteria-style.
Last year Gut Check went on a Lenten fish fry frenzy, visiting a different church fish fry every Friday. Now it's your turn.
Here's a roundup of some St. Louis-area churches hosting Ash Wednesday fish fries tonight...
Steven Smith, tavern-keep of The Royale, started the STL Fish Fry Crew Facebook group two years ago. It has since swelled to almost 600 members, many of whom converge on the church of Smith's choosing. Tonight's selection is St. Stephen Protomartyr (3929 Wilmington Avenue near Carondelet Park in south city). Dinner is served 4-7 p.m. Draft beer, $2 bottles of Schlafly and the promise of fish tacos should be enough to lure even the most pagan among us to the church.
If the Fish Fry Crew at St. S.P. is too much for you, you might want to try south city's St. Mark (8300 Morgan Ford Road, a few blocks south of the River Des Peres).
Friday Night Fish, a local family of five that looks for quality, value, and sustainability in their fish fry, then blogs the results, will be at Our Lady of Guadalupe (17 Hawkesbury Dr., Cool Valley), which was a Gut Check favorite last year for its simple, fresh take on the Mexican vegetarian fish-fry subgenre.
Out to the southwest, Sacred Heart Catholic Church (17 Ann Avenue, Valley Park) serves until 7:30, while St. Alban Roe (2001 Shepherd Road, Wildwood) drops its price to $9 today only.
Up north, Sacred Heart Parish (751 North Jefferson Street, Florissant) is making its first fish-fry foray, and today's opening day!
Across the river, St. Mary (1706 West Main Street; Belleville, Illinois) hosts its BYOB fish fry. Not that this is unusual; they fry it up at least once a month outside of the Lenten season.
Know another parish that's frying tonight? Let us know in the comments.