Lent leads to fish Fridays, sacrifice

By Nedu Izuegbunam, NewsNetNebraska

If there’s one food group Joel Uhing enjoys eating, it’s meat.

Pork, chicken, beef – it doesn’t matter. If it’s put in front of the University of Nebraska – Lincoln senior, it’ll be devoured within minutes.

Uhing’s craving for meat most likely stems from where his family lives, he said.

“My family lives on a farm so I bring a lot of food from home,” the Hartington, Neb., native said. “We have livestock so we have a lot of meat.”

But since Feb. 13, Uhing has given up pop, candy and eating animal proteins on Fridays for Lent. During the Christian religious holiday, Catholics abstain from meat on all Fridays until Easter weekend.

Uhing said he admits that refraining from his favorite meals one day out of the week hasn’t been easy.

“It takes a conscious thought every Friday to offer up that sacrifice,” the mechanical engineering said.

But thankfully for Uhing, he also enjoys consuming seafood.

During the first three weeks of Lent the senior has found other ways of substituting meat by eating fish sticks and cheese pizza, while also attending fish fries.

“I went to my first one of the year two weeks ago and I loved it,” Uhing said.

Every year the Knights of Columbus holds fish fry dinners across the world during Lent, including the St. John the Apostle Parish  where Uhing and his friends ate on March 6 for dinner.

And church’s aren’t the only buildings Christians attend on Friday’s to have seafood dinners.

Mark Nemec is the owner of Kolache Korner Café in Prague, Neb. and said his Czech restaurant offers different types of food for his Catholic customers on Fridays throughout the year.

“The types of fish we serve are carp, Pollock and catfish,” the owner said. “Our fish fries are year round. Some people don’t realize that if they’re from out of town. They find out we do this year round and they’re more apt to comeback for repeated visits.”

And the variety of fish isn’t the only reason Nemec said people looking for dinner on Friday’s should visit his restaurant.

“We have free entertainment,” he said. “Having musicians perform that Czech polka music while our customers eat their dinner – it’s a win-win situation.”

And the 80-seat capacity restaurant has been packed lately.

“It’s doubled,” Nemec said. “We’ve seen a spike in attendance on Friday evenings and we notice that those people aren’t our regulars. It’s not uncommon to have 160 people flow through here during Lent.”

Uhing, whose friends with Nemec’s nephew, said he plans on visiting the restaurant before the Lenten season is over. The UNL senior added that events like fish fries and remembering the meaning behind Lent make it easier for him to abstain from meat on Fridays.

“It’s not just about giving it up for the sake of giving it up,” he said. “The goal of giving up meat on Fridays is to help you reflect on what the real intention is; to remember Jesus and build on your relationship with him. There’s a real meaning behind it.”

But don’t let Uhing’s above statement mislead you for his desire to eat meat and poultry again.

The senior said he’ll be returning to his normal eating habits on Friday’s come March 30.

“Fish is always good to have every so often but I’ll probably just go back to my regular routine once Lent is over,” he said with a laugh.

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