Meat eating has been on the back foot during Lent and especially on Good Friday, for many a long year. Butchers, slaughterhouse workers and meat market traders of old suffered financially during the Lenten season, so serious was the damage this religious observance did to their businesses. In fact, a tradition called ‘Whipping the Herring’ took place on the Easter weekend – a resolute act from the meat industry, to show how glad they were to see the back of fish and joy that meat was on the household menu again. This tradition took several forms. The Herring procession may have used many fish, or just one sole herring, borne on a stick, held aloft and paraded through the streets. Onlookers would cheer. The herring would be beaten until there was little left of it. We hasten to add the fish was already dead before the beating began! In some places, the battered fish – excuse the pun – was thrown into the nearest river to happy cheers and hoorays. We aren’t aware of any Whipping the Herring processions going on this Easter weekend, but if you hear of one, do let us know! As we’ve mentioned in earlier blogs this week, fish is the order of the day today. Actually, it’s very sensible to include it in the diet at least once a week every week. It has nutritionally sound benefits. Oily fish like mackerel, salmon and trout – plus the long suffering herring, are packed with Omega 3, prized for it’s healthy actions on the heart and cholesterol levels. White fish is low in fat with good protein content for growth and development, especially good for kids. No longer is fish the butt of the butchers fury this time of year. Good Friday fish is as much looked forward to as the lamb on Easter Sunday. At Good Food Ireland, we advocate the use of sustainable fish and seafood and promote the small boat fishermen and fishmongers who bring these to our tables. Ballycotton Seafood and O’Connell’s fish stall in the English Market are two Cork based fish suppliers who would certainly have heard of the Whipping the Herring tradition, since the parade took place in Cork, where plentiful herring catches were once landed. These two specialists have much to offer fish lovers – fresh whole or filleted fish and seasonal mussels, scallops, crabs, oysters and lobsters from local waters, glistening on their fishmongers slabs. You might even be enjoying some of those today!