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Fish Pudding?

Ariel Cobbert / The Commercial Appeal

I have gotten the strangest looks when I've asked friends, “Have you tried the Fish Pudding at Calvary Episcopal Church’s Lenten Waffle Shop?”

Most people turn up their nose — which, if I am being honest, was the first response I had years ago when I went to the annual Waffle Shop for the first time. I am sure a vision of a gelatinous pile of mush goes through their minds like it did mine.

But, boy, I'm glad I gave it a try.

The Fish Pudding is anything but what I expected. It’s a classic Southern casserole made with flaky white fish and topped with a buttery crispy cracker crust. A dollop of handmade mayonnaise adds a finishing touch. It’s a flavorful, yet mild, fish dish.

It’s been on the Waffle Shop menu since day one. That was 96 years ago in 1928. Generations of Memphians have made this dish, as well as the annual pop-up restaurant’s made-to-order waffles and chicken hash, an almost-century-old tradition.

So how did a dish that does not resemble pudding in any way get that name?

Pudding is an old English term for casserole.

The basic recipe combines the fish with lemon juice, sherry, onion and what has been described to me as a “series of spices.” Eggs and milk serve as the binder. A buttery cracker crumb crust tops the dish.

It’s served warm with a dollop of Calvary’s famous homemade mayonnaise, with potatoes, slaw and cornbread on the side. And, know its only available on Fridays during Lent.

This is Jennifer Chandler with The Weekly Dish. Bon Appetit!

This year, the Waffle Shop is open Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. The final day is March 22. For more information, visit calvarymemphis.org.

Jennifer Chandler graduated at the top of her class from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. She is a full-time mom to two daughters in Memphis, Tennessee, and is a freelance food writer, restaurant consultant, and author of four cookbooks The Southern Pantry Cookbook, Simply Salads, Simply Suppers, and Simply Grilling.