Lent: A New Orleans Tradition
Mardi Gras season has ended and the streets of New Orleans have finally settled down. Mardi Gras is a French term translating to “Fat Tuesday” and is believed to come from eating richer, fatty foods before fasting during the Christian season of Lent. The religious holiday celebrated on the day after Mardi Gras is called Ash Wednesday, and marks the beginning of a 40-day period leading up to Easter Sunday that is reserved for fasting and reflecting. One of the most notable traditions is that Catholics typically abstain from eating meat on Fridays during the Lenten seasons. While Lent is celebrated by Catholics worldwide, it has a special meaning here in New Orleans because of the city’s deep religious roots and rich culinary history.
New Orleans’ Catholic Roots
Catholicism had an integral part in the shaping of both New Orleans’ political and social climates since the city’s inception. New Orleans was founded by the French and later governed by the Spanish – both deeply Catholic countries. In fact, throughout the 18th century, Catholicism was the only religion allowed in the city.
With the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, New Orleans officially became part of the United States, but its Catholic roots remained. To this day, New Orleans is the only state that refers to their political subdivisions as “parishes” instead of counties – a tradition rooted in the idea of each district having its own church and priest.
Lent in New Orleans Today
If you’re wondering why Lent is still so widely celebrated in New Orleans, its because Catholicism remains the most prominent religion in the city. According to Archdiocese census, Catholics make up 36% of the city’s population. Add on to that our passion for food and fellowship, and it’s clear to see why Fridays during Lent are a perfect time to get together and share a meal!
For many people, it’s hard to give up meat on Fridays during Lent. However, being so close to the Gulf of Mexico, New Orleanians can enjoy such a rich variety of fresh seafood options during the Lenten season that it hardly feels like a sacrifice! Throughout the city, you can see Men’s Clubs hosting Fried Catfish dinners and families gathering for impromptu crawfish boils on Friday afternoons.
Lent Dining at Tujague’s
Whether you observe Lent or not, at Tujague’s we have many delicious seafood dishes to enjoy and take part in the tradition. In fact, if you want to make a day of exploring the city’s Catholic history, within walking distance in the French Quarter are five churches (St. Augustine, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Immaculate Conception, St. Mary’s, and the Cathedral), the city’s oldest cemetery St. Louis #1, and the Old Ursuline Convent Museum, which is the oldest standing building in New Orleans.
For lunch at Tujague’s, try our Charbroiled Oysters. A true New Orleans classic – you won’t want to miss out on these! Another great Lent-friendly lunch option is the Seafood Courtbouillon. This delicious seafood dish comes with fresh gulf fish, oysters, shrimp, creole tomato broth and rice.
For dinner, try one of our personal favorites, the Grilled Yellowfin Tuna served with Haricot vert, shallots, baby tomatoes, olives, red quinoa, and preserved lemon oil. Another option you can’t go wrong with is the Gulf Fish Amandine, complemented with butter poached asparagus and Creole meunière sauce.
Experience The Lenten Season Meals
We hope you’ll join us in the French Quarter this Lent and try our delicious seafood options! See our full menu online, and call 504-525-8676 to reserve your table today.