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-   -   Are alligators meat or fish? (

Pudding Crawl 15 February 2013 12:07 PM

No reason to limit it just to Fridays- go pescatarian!

Gayle 15 February 2013 02:41 PM

At $20/lb, alligator defeats the purpose of lent unless you're bagging your own alligator in the wild.

Hero_Mike 15 February 2013 05:11 PM

The aspect spending a lot of money on something you eat during lent shouldn't mean that it's self-indulgent. In fact, because alligator is expensive, a person may only be able to afford a small amount of gator (while spending the same amount on food as they usually do), thus furthering that whole "fast and abstinence" aspect of food during lent.

One of my former parish priests - now passed away - commented about the "spirit" of lent vs. the "letter of the law". Basically he said that just because one is not supposed to eat meat on Fridays, one shouldn't then gorge on fish. The "fast and abstinence" aspect is that you both "fast" (one normal meal and two smaller ones which are no more than a normal meal), and "abstain" (from eating meat).

FWIW, I come from a fairly devout Catholic family and this was never a normal practice. However, my family comes from eastern Poland. Even into the 50's and early 60's, "abstaining" from meat was not uncommon because people could not afford to eat meat every day. Fish was available, but rarely fresh. It was usually pickled, and that had to be kept relatively cool. Smoked fish was a luxury. Religious dietary restrictions were far easier to follow when there wasn't a huge surplus. And I'm sure that all but the most penitent would take a practical approach and postpone their fasting day, if they just so happened to have a piece of fresh meat that would be fine on Friday but unlikely to be fresh enough to eat, the next day. With no electricity until the late 50's, that was a fairly common thing I imagine.

BrianB 16 February 2013 03:25 AM


Originally Posted by crocoduck_hunter (Post 1713617)
I never said anything about a pope. I've only ever heard of South American Catholic church leaders in areas where capybara were already an important part of the local diet declaring them to be fish, I've never heard it about it being something that was supposed to have been an official rung from the pope or anything.

While I think the unnamed 16th Century pope version is the least plausible (I think someone local would be more likely) I used it as an example because it appears to be the most popular. I know I'm being nitpicky (sorry) but the thing that interests me the most is what Bonnie said in the other thread:

Specifically, I'm interested to know whether there was a particular appeal to a European clerical body or official or whether this practice was adopted locally without obtaining consent from higher authorities.
So, did anyone at any level in the church make such a decision? I found some indications it might have been a local priest or monk but there doesn't seem to be any credible evidence that anyone with any authority (no bishops, archbishops, or popes) declared the capybara to be a fish. Do you remember where you read it was South American church leaders who made the decision? (My search came up empty. This is the closest I can find.) No worries if you don't. It's just that I would be very interested in reading it. :)

In addition, it could have been a church decision but without any need to declare a capybara a fish. For example, I found this thread on The Straight Dope where several posters make that argument:


Catholic Venezuelan checking in. I have hunted and eaten capybaras (chiguires) and was a seminarian there (what are the odds, huh?)

Capybaras are, in effect, large rodents, about the size of a small pig or a medium-large dog. They live most of their lives in flooded plains (esteros).

They are, most definitely, not fish nor does the Church think or established that they are fish, but there was a Papal dispensation allowing their consumption in days of abstinence.

So an episcopal conference or an individual bishops could easily declare that capybara meat is permitted for whatever reason, without having to nonsenically declare that it is a fish for the purpose of circumventing the regulation.

overyonder 16 February 2013 09:11 AM

Fish-fry Fridays are a common thing in South Carolina, and that is year-round, and this is not for Cath's only. I don't know for certain whether it's religion-based, or just a coincidence.


Hero_Mike 17 February 2013 12:20 AM

In the middle ages, when the influence and formality of the Catholic Church was at its highest, the "fasting days" where numerous and included, IIRC...
  • every Wednesday
  • every Friday
  • all of Lent
  • all of Advent (a similar 40-day period before Christmas)
  • the eve (Saturday) of major "feasts" such as Pentecost or The Assumption

That's about 150 to 200 days - I'm too lazy to do the exact math but it used to be substantial.

Some Catholics, to this day, hold themselves to a higher standard than the minimum required these days, and maintain the "fast and abstinence", or at least abstain from meat, on Fridays throughout the year. My uncle's wife and her family come from such a tradition of devotion, and abstain from meat on Friday's, year-round.

hambubba 20 February 2013 10:47 PM

Followup to the OP:

Forget the Friday fish fry, alligator is OK for Lent

Looks like a rehash of an older subject, but some new info is in there.

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