The friendly volunteers who attend the dessert table call themselves “the cutups.” (Photo by Steve Bowman)

‘God’s cod’ is a hit, and don’t forget to ask for green beans amondine

By Steve Bowman
Editor, The Brentwood Spirit

Volunteer Charley Ponciroli stirs garlic, olive oil and parsley into his green beans amondine. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Saint Mary Magdalen Catholic Church is referred to as the “local parish” in the Brentwood area. But when the church’s school holds its annual fish fry dinners during Lent, “local” doesn’t cut it.

The dinners, served on seven Friday evenings through April 18, appear to be attracting way more than just Brentwood residents. Over 1,000 people from both inside and outside Brentwood have lined up to feast on fish for each of the past three Fridays.

“It’s amazing because we walk out into the gym and don’t recognize the majority of people who are here,” said Molly Hodge, the event’s organizer and a member of the parish. “It’s not just our parishioners – people are coming from all over.”

Similar statements were made by Eva and Marilee, volunteer attendants at the dessert table and longtime parish members.

The God’s Cod Fish Fry is held in the St. Mary Magdalen gym. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

The most popular menu item is fried cod. Hodge said they sold so much of it the first week that they ran out 45 minutes before the official closing time of 7:30 p.m. Customers had devoured 32 cases, or almost 1,300 four-ounce loins.

“So for the second week we increased to 45 cases of cod,” she said, “and we still sold out.”

Sold out doesn’t mean out of food. The menu also includes baked salmon, baked sole and fried shrimp. For kids there’s cheese pizza and macaroni and cheese. Most dinners come with two side dishes. The sides include green bean amondine, cole slaw, three-bean salad, macaroni and cheese and parmesan chips.

Two trays of salmon filets await the oven. The filets are served with dill sauce on the side. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Dinner prices are $5 or $6 for a kid’s meal and $6 to $13 for adults. The most popular item, for $9, is the “God’s cod fried platter,” which comprises two large cod fillets, two sides and dessert. The feasts are staffed by volunteers and all proceeds benefit the school

Why is the event more popular this year than in the previous two years Hodge organized it?

“I think our reputation has just gotten so good,” she replied. “We buy quality food. This is a quality piece of salmon; it’s fresh and delicious, not fishy or overbearing. Same thing with the sole. For months I tried different types of sole and it was fishy but I finally found what I was looking for. I want people to come here and I want them to be wowed.”

The fish fry will be held from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the school gym for four more Fridays: March 28, April 4, April 11 and April 18.

For more information, go to the church’s website: http://www.stmmchurch.com

Matt Hodge gets ready to put a tray of cod filets in the oven. His wife, Molly, organizes the fish fry. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Fish fry organizer Molly Hodge brings out the cole slaw. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Charley Ponciroli seasons the green beans amondine. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Prices for adult meals range from $6 to $13. Proceeds benefit the school. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Assisting at the adult beverage table are (from left) Kathy Wiseman, Joni King and Katie Temporiti. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Roger Froesel serves thirsty customers at the soft drink counter. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

In the popular drive-thru behind the parish on Magdalen Avenue, a young “runner” hands a menu to a customer. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Four runners working in the drive-thru pause for a quick photo. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Lily takes the order of a drive-thru customer. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

By about 5:30 p.m. on Friday the gym is filling up. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Father Jack Siefert of St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church chats with fish fry customers on Friday. (Photo by Steve Bowman)