Food and Faith

I’m from Nebraska, home to a lot of practicing Catholics. Although I am not personally one (I grew up Methodist), half my family is Catholic. About a half dozen even went to Catholic schools. This time of year, that means many people I know will be eating fish or non-meat dishes on Friday. Probably every small town in Nebraska has a fish fry on Friday nights during lent. It may be at the Knights of Columbus Hall or your local VFW/American Legion. Chances are if you are in Norfolk, my uncle Jerry will probably be serving you.

As a kid, I remember spending a lot of time with my Grandma Fletcher. I always used to love to ride up to Wayne with my mother when she went to work so I could go hang out with Grandma Fletcher. My Grandmother became Catholic the year I was born (this is also the same year my Grandpa Fletcher gave up smoking). She grew up Methodist and raised her family in the church. Her mother, my Great Grandma Kingston, was a devote Methodist. Until her family took the keys to her car away from her, Grandma Kingston drove to church every Sunday. And even in the Wayne Care Center, Grandma Kingston watched her church live on local television. I’ll never forget as a child when Father Jim was at my Grandma and Grandpa Fletcher’s house. My Great Grandma introduced herself by saying, “Hello, my name is Ella. I am Shirley’s mother. I’m a good Methodist.” Father Jim responded by saying, “I’ve never met a bad one.” Oh loved Father Jim, he made you want to be Catholic.

My Grandma Fletcher was very involved in her church. My grandma did everything from attending daily Mass to hosting Bible study at her house to taking communion to the homebound. One of the coolest things Grandma Fletcher did though was made baptismal bibs with the names of each child baptized and the date as a keepsake for their families.

On Good Friday, Stephanie and I would usually join Grandma Fletcher as we walked the Stations of the Cross. It’s was really cool because all the faith denominations worked together on this event. We walked all over town, visiting several churches along the route. After we completed the cross walk, Grandma would take us to Godfather’s for the lunch buffet.

Back in those days, I thought it was so weird they served fish on a pizza. But when you have a lot of people observing lent, I guess that makes sense. I think my aunt Irene’s mother Mary told me once that practicing Catholics used to eat fish ever Friday, not just during lent season. I guess it was something the church changed over the years.

Although I know my Catholic friends have a lot more options that fried fish sticks for their lent feast, I thought I would share a recipe for a more savory salmon fillet. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did when I sampled it earlier this week.

Grilled Salmon with Garlic Mayo by Donna Noel (Taste of Home cookbook)

3 T. plus a teaspoon of olive oil, divided
½ tsp. dried rosemary, crushed
4 salmon fillets
8 garlic cloves, peeled
1 T. lemon juice
¾ c. mayo
2 T. plain yogurt
1 T. Dijon mustard

Spray the grill rack with cooking spray. Combine 3 T. olive oil and rosemary; drizzle over salmon. Place salmon skin side down on grill rack.

Grill covered over a medium heat for 10-12 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Meanwhile, microwave garlic and remaining oil on high for 20-30 seconds or until softened. Transfer to a blender and add remaining ingredients. Cover and process until blended. Serve with salmon.


  • I substituted light mayo, honey dijon mustard, vanilla non-fat yogurt, and garlic powder in this dish. I think the sauce turned out fine but probably a little sweeter the original sauce.
  • I also think this sauce would be good with other types of fish – so test it with your favorite.
  • I halved this recipe and only ate 3 oz. of salmon per meal.
  • I made the Betty Crocker Twiced Baked Potatoes to go with this recipe. If you are looking for something a little healthier, I would suggest asparagus.

One response

  1. Yes, I grew up when Catholics did not eat meat at all on Fridays. Fish at our house was usually bullheads caught from one of the Iowa lakes, dredged in corn meal and deep fried in lard! No wonder I never liked fish until I met Ed and ate fish (Northern and Walleye) from his dad’s Minnesota fishing trips! My mom, who turns 77 tomorrow, and I were on the phone tonight and we were talking about what we had eaten today. My dad went to town for lunch so she waited until he was gone to boil some eggs for egg salad sandwiches because he hates the smell! I reminded her how much Marilyn and I love to make creamed eggs on toast and she told me about learning to cook that in Home Ec. I remember going to my Great Aunt Anna’s farm so my dad could help her with yard work and she would make fried egg sandwiches for us. Of course the eggs were fresh from her own hens. Such a simple meal, but I thought they were wonderful. Honestly, not eating meat on Fridays isn’t much of a sacrifice because I’ve learned to like a variety of foods. For me, this Lenten practice is part of my heritage and helps keep me grounded in the traditions of my faith. I have some salmon in the freezer and can’t wait to try this recipe next Friday!

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