Fried catfish is not exactly rare in New Orleans, but during Lent it's inescapable. On Lenten Fridays when good Christians abstain from meat, they settle for fish fries. ("Settle," as though any sane person would choose meat over fried catfish.)

While New Orleans offers a bounty of seafood options, the particular joys of fried catfish have not been lost on its citizens. The idea of the "fish fry" itself has also branched out.

Roman Catholic churches all over the country hold fish fries to raise money during Lent, but in New Orleans the fish fry has become a citywide event. Different kitchens use the occasion as a chance to stretch their culinary skills and throw the sort of neighborhood party this city is known for.

The fish fry offers a simpler preparation of fried catfish — these plates aren't adorned with fancy sides or deconstructed tartar sauce. But part of the thrill is the tradition of the fish fry. And while the article doesn't expressly mention it, surely another part of the thrill is watching that deep-fried grease seep into the paper plate.

If eating fried catfish every Friday is a sacrifice, it's definitely the best sacrifice ever.

[Image via Flickr/ViNull]