Fish Fry Frenzy: Week 4, St. Cecilia Parish Church

Rease Kirchner
Parroquia Santa Cecilia (906 Eichelberger Street; 314-351-1318), a.k.a. St. Cecilia, is the unofficial church for Mexican-American Catholics in St. Louis. Families come together for its Lenten events and bring to the table an entire new universe of fish-fry fare, with the emphasis on fare, as opposed to fish. St. Cecilia fish fries are perhaps best known for their chiles rellenos, big-ass mildly spicy poblano peppers jammed full of cheese, then dipped in batter and fried till the exterior browns and the cheesy depth-charge inside achieves molten status. Praise the Lord and pass the cervezas; these calorie bombs are addictive to the very last gooey bite.

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Fish Fry Frenzy: Week 2, Webster Groves Lion's Club Gluten-Free Fish Fry

Liz Miller
Beginning Today, Friday, March 9, the Webster Groves Lion's Club will hold a fundraising barbecue every second Friday and Saturday through October (excluding July) from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m in the parking lot of Sappington Farmers' Market (8400 Watson Road, 314-843-7848). Today, Friday, March 9, and Saturday, March 10, in honor of lent, the barbecue expands to include a gluten-free fish fry, offering gluten-free fish dinners and fish sandwiches. While fish is inherently gluten-free (as are meat and seafood products in general), the batter used to coat fish before it's deep-fried often contains wheat and gluten ingredients.

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Fish Fry Frenzy: Week 1, First Unitarian Church of St. Louis

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Liz Miller
Vegan chili at the First Unitarian Church UnFish Fry
Vegan felafel, pita bread, veggie chili and dolmas aren't traditional fish fry fare, but then, little about the menu at the First Unitarian Church of St. Louis (5007 Waterman Boulevard, 314-361-0595) UnFish Fry could be described as traditional. This annual vegetarian dinner not only takes meat off the menu, but also fried food in general. The decidedly healthier, Mediterranean-inspired eats include the above mentioned entrées, as well as mac 'n' cheese, dolmas, green beans, cole slaw, salad and applesauce, and the usual buffet of baked goods for dessert.

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Fish Fry Frenzy: STL's Best Deep-Frying Destinations

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Gut Check's map needs your help!
Friday, February 24, marked a special day for Gut Check: The beginning of fish fry season. We asked you to share your favorite fish fries with us, and combined the results with a list of our own to create a map of our favorite fried fish destinations. On each of the six spectacular Fridays leading up to Easter Sunday, Gut Check will brave long lines, crowded cafeterias, heightened cholesterol levels and the potential disappointment of sold-out signs to find the deep-fried, breaded best that St. Louis has to offer.

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Share Your Favorite Fish Fry: Win $20 to Porter's Fried Chicken [Updated with winner]

Robin Wheeler
In years past, Gut Check has chronicled the many Lenten fish fries happening around St. Louis. This year, we're reaching out to you, dear readers, to share the location of your favorite local fish fry. The most creative submission will be chosen by Gut Check on Friday, February 24, and rewarded with a $20 gift certificate to Porter's Fried Chicken, for, might we suggest, the catfish, battered cod or Jack salmon?

To enter, simply submit the name and address of your favorite fish fry location in the comments section below, along with at least 100 words explaining why it takes top honors. Be sure to also include your name and email address, as Gut Check will contact the winner to claim his or her prize.

Update: Congrats to commenter Sal E., who submitted the fish fry at St. Cecilia's Parish (906 Eichelberger Street, 314-353-2455).

Is Jewish Light's Endorsement of St. Richard's Lenten Fish Fry Bad for the Jews?

Categories: Fish Fry Frenzy

A sign on the wall just outside the St. Richard's School cafeteria.
Here's a secret, one you probably already know: Not every Jew keeps kosher. As a matter of fact, some eat an awful lot of treyf and believe that life isn't worth living if it doesn't include cheeseburgers, bacon and sausage pizza. Oh, and barbecued ribs.

But when the Jewish Light, St. Louis' Jewish weekly, decided to expand its interfaith horizons and rate the Lenten Friday fish fries at local Catholic churches and declared the one at St. Richard's Catholic Parish in Creve Coeur the best, it touched off what we professional journalists refer to as a shitstorm among the paper's readers.

"What Jewish values are presented by comparing which fish fry has the best shrimp and catfish?" wrote Joan and Jules Stiber.

"In the Jewish universe, Friday night is for Shabbat, not fish-fry hopping," Ellyn Goldman Ross put in. "St. Louis Jewish families choose their own ways to recognize Friday night as the beginning of the Sabbath. But it is really offensive to have a Jewish institution organize against traditional ways by reviewing Friday-night dining at area churches."

Naturally Gut Check, a connoisseur of fish fries, as it happens, had to check out St. Richard's.

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It's Ash Wednesday - Get Your Fish Fry On!

Categories: Fish Fry Frenzy

Robin Wheeler
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...

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Fish Fry Frenzy, Week 6: St. Joan of Arc

Categories: Fish Fry Frenzy

Robin Wheeler
The holy trinity: Cod, mac & cheese, potato salad. Oh, yeah, and Busch. Make that the holy fournity.
Many churches don't fry on Good Friday, but St. Joan of Arc does. They're the workhorse of St. Louis fish-fry scene. The long cafeteria's arranged to accommodate lengthy lines. Carry-out to the left, dine-in on the right, and keep it moving.

Once the line hits a certain point, St. Joan volunteers have been known to pass out free beer. Get there early and it's only $2 a can.

St. Joan's advertises that everything is homemade, but the fried cod looks and tastes a lot like the frozen triangles. The catfish, however, looks like the real hand-breaded deal. Two fellow diners vouch for its deliciousness.

The side dishes are where it's at. They're definitely homemade and among the best on the scene. Macaroni and cheese studded with a heavy dose of black pepper stands out, as do the al dente and flavorful green beans. The cole slaw's colorful and creamy. But the Irish potatoes are a must. Boiled red potatoes drip with butter, parsley and a little garlic, so tender they crumble under a plastic fork.

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Fish Fry Frenzy, Week 5: Our Lady of Guadalupe in Cool Valley

Categories: Fish Fry Frenzy

Robin Wheeler
Don't judge a fish fry by its cover. Tacos and guacamole, baby!
St. Cecilia's in south city gets all the attention when it comes to the Mexican fish fry, but it's not the only local Catholic church that caters to a large Mexican congregation. Near the city-limits line that separates Cool Valley from Ferguson, tiny Our Lady of Guadalupe brings the Lenten fiesta to north county.

The signs here aren't as slick as the ones at St. Mary Magdalen's. But they're sweet and earnest, giving no clue to the treasures inside the church basement.

There's no line early in the evening, so volunteers have time to explain the dishes if the photos of each item aren't enough. There's Midwest fish fry staples: flaky cornmeal-breaded cod loins, the usual sides and, at long last, hush puppies!

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Fish Fry Frenzy, Week 4: St. Mary Magdalen in Brentwood

Categories: Fish Fry Frenzy

Church fish frys don't have marketing budgets. But at St. Mary Magdalen in Brentwood, they've at least got someone with a sense of humor and an eye for cute graphics. Why else would they have yard signs dotted with colorful fish, proclaiming, "God's Cod!" with their fish fry times?

Robin Wheeler
Now that's what we call God's Cod!
It doesn't stop at the signs. Inside, volunteers sport the God's Cod! logo on pale blue T-shirts and aprons. They meet us at the door, selling cans of Bud and plastic cups of boxed wine. In case the line's too long, later a man walks by, selling beer from a gallon tub filled with ice. On top of the cans, little plastic containers filled with something colorful.

We joked about Jell-O shots at Epiphany last week. Surely it's not ...

Later, a woman in one of the T-shirts walks by with a half hotel pan. We ask what's inside.

Oh yes.

St. Mary Magdalen has Jell-O shots. God's Cod with a side of Satan's Gelatin!

She always was my favorite saint.

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