ASK FATHER: Lent and the ol’ aligator on Friday dilemma!

I have posted on this in the past, but repetita iuvant as we say in Latin.


Someone sent me a copy of a letter written by the Archbishop of New Orleans to a member of his flock about eating alligator during Lent.  The answer is “yes”.  You may eat alligator during Lent.

This is old news to readers of this blog, of course.  Last year I posted this, which ought to have settled the whole thing:

QUAERITUR: Abstinentia de carne lacertina aut crocodrillina

Ex lectoris e-pistulis extractum:

Reverendo patro Ioanni Zuhlsdorfo discipulus C. salutem et commemorationem in precibus suis. Gratias meas, sivis, ob opum tuam tibi agere volo. [Acceptae.] Mihi, catholico iuveni et discipulo in collegio liberalum artis et liberalum (aut impudicarum) mentum, scripturae tuae magnam auxilium fuerunt. Mox Ludovicianam meabo. Quaeritur: Sineturne corpus alligatoris feria VI in Quadregesima sine violando abstinentiam Quadragesimae edere?

Ossificatus manualista impoenitens respondeo de paginis Compendii Theologiae Moralis (Sabetti-Barrett) n. 331, :


Nomine carnis veniunt omnia animalia in terra viventia ac respirantia, ut communiter admittunt theologi ex regula tradita a S. Thoma vel, ut S. Alphonsus innuit, n. 1011, animalia quae sanguinem habent calidum; vel illud quod consuetudo regionis ut carnem habet; vel, si nec consuetudo praesto sit, dubium solvi potest considerando mentem Ecclesiae in sanciendo delectu ciborum, ut comprimendae ac minuendae carnis concupiscentiae per salutarem abstinetiam consuleret; examinetur, an huiusmodi animal simile sit aut dissimile iis quorum esus interdictus est et an illius carnes humano corpori validius nutriendo et roborando idoneae dignoscantur; et si ita appareat, ista caro inter vetitas est ponenda. Benedict XIV., De syn. dioec., lib.11, c. 5, n. 12. Haec quatuor multum deservient omni dubitationi solvendae.

Ergo, crocodrilli et lacertae inter reptilia sunt et amphibia.

Edi ergo possunt feriis sextis et tempore Quadragesimae

Omnibus tamen diebus ab eis edimur!

So, there you have it.

You can eat alligator and crocodile on Fridays of Lent.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. mburn16 says:

    Also, capybara I believe – something of an aquatic groundhog the los conquistadores had certified as a fish in the 1500s.

  2. Nicholas says:

    Thanks for posting this father. Without it, my Lent is incomplete.

  3. Andrew says:

    I had gator meat with french fries recently at a wooden bench at a remote truck-stop at an even more remote location (the kind of place where you hold your gun in your pocket, just in case): and the meat was tasteless and chewy. I prefer possum for sure. Could have been the cook’s fault: I don’t know, but I won’t be going back to that place any time soon.

  4. Mike says:

    Years ago, I had Gator stew at RT’s in Alexandria, VA. Outstanding.

  5. Mike says:

    And here it is…RT’s is still in business: 3804 Mt Vernon Ave.
    Alexandria, VA 22305

    I may have go there on a Friday in Lent!

    Creole Alligator Stew
    Topped with Chopped Egg & a Touch of Sherry cup 5.95
    bowl 6.95

  6. John Grammaticus says:

    Does this apply to those of us living outside the US as well? Only I think the local burger place has alligator on the menu ……….

  7. Mandy P. says:

    In my pre-keto days, I was a big fan of deep fried gator tail. It kinda tastes like popcorn chicken, to be honest. One of the local sports bars down here used to have it on their menu during football season and they served it with a side of some kind of spicy French dressing. It was very, very tasty.

  8. Supertradmum says:

    What about turtle meat? And dragon?

  9. Mike says:

    Mike quoque: RT’s is doing fine. I haven’t tried the gator, although I enjoy gator when I am in Florida and can find it; my favorites at RT’s are the oysters Nezpique and pasta jambalaya, both first-rate.

    Apropos of several other current threads, you can go to Confession next door at St. Rita’s from 7:00 to 7:30 any evening Monday through Saturday and at several other times besides (as you will need to if you eat either of the above dishes, both of which contain meat, on a day of abstinence, so don’t do it); both boxes are generally in use on any given evening. There is also Adoration several evenings a week and TLM on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 pm.

  10. Fuquay Steve says:

    Crabmeat permitted?

  11. Mike says:

    Mike–that’s good to know, thanks!

    I heard RT’s was a favorite of Al Gore’s back in the day, but it’s still a nice restaurant.

  12. jflare says:

    OK, I’m going to have to plead guilty to being a MidWesterner. I primarily know that alligators exist primarily in the South, especially between Louisiana and Florida and they eat meat, including humans. I have, in my lifetime, never seen an alligator, unless you count the ‘gators in the zoo
    (or the Florida team that my Cornhuskers beat in the Orange Bowl years ago, but I digress…).
    I have the general understanding that sane human beings are best advised to avoid these critters if possible.

    I’m having a terrible time with believing that anyone seeks these critters to any extent, never mind with the intent to eat them for dinner.
    I understand that seafood is a routine thing on the East Coast. I understand eating corn on the cob here in the MidWest in late summer. It’s a delicacy. ..Sort of.



  13. Mariana2 says:


    I’m sure those old fire-drakes of the North are very tough and need days of marinating : ) !

  14. jflare says:

    “…beat in the Orange Bowl years ago…”
    OK, so I checked, it was actually the Fiesta Bowl in ’96. Wow! 19 years ago now. Where has the time gone….??

  15. george says:

    Appaerntly in at least some parts of Michigan, muskrat is allowed on Friday as well. I’ll have to find a reference for that…

  16. cowboyengineer says:

    Love alligator. What about crawfish? My favorite watering hole is boiling them every Friday down here in Houston. Are they kosher, so to speak?

  17. Pingback: Gator’s Back on the Menu | The American Catholic

  18. Quanah says:

    Thank you, Father, for posting this again. I had completely forgotten about the “Lenten menu” posted at the end. It is now posted outside my room for my students and all others who pass by.

  19. ChesterFrank says:

    Thank you for posting this as there is a tavern not too far away that happens to serve gator. Is it also permissible to enjoy that gator with a few brews to wash it down? I had heard Lent was meant to be a penitential season.

  20. Tim Ferguson says:

    for the sake of future generations, I think we need to begin now developing a breed of pigs that live mostly in water. Perhaps some future bishop will then grant a dispensation to permit the ingestion of these aquatic swine – sea pigs? – so that our descendants may have bacon-wrapped scallops on Fridays.

    Think ahead… for the children!!

  21. Imrahil says:

    There is actually a family of mammals called mereswines. (Not to mention that we Germans call the guinea pigs “sea piglets”. But they are somewhat small, of course, and not so really much aquatic.)

  22. frahobbit says:

    Alligators have never abstained from eating Catholics. It depends on who gets to the dinner table first.

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