A BBQ Spot Is Serving Beaver to Bring in Customers on Lent

Brown is serving what he calls humanely trapped smoked beaver and he says sales have “almost doubled” over the past week.

Mar 1 2016, 4:00pm

Photo via Flickr user Alissa Groff

For the roughly 1.2 billion Catholics on this earth, the season of Lent is a time for solemn religious observance. Perhaps the most well known of said observances—at least as far as food goes—is abstaining from the consumption of meat on Fridays. But for restaurants in areas with large Catholic populations, Fridays during Lent can mean slow business.

Which is exactly why Brenton Brown, the co-owner of St. Louis's Bootleggin' BBQ, saw the answer to his problems when a friend told him that the Catholic Church has at times made exceptions during Lent and allowed the consumption of aquatic mammals—like beavers, muskrats, and capybara, the world's largest living rodent.

Now Brown is serving what he calls humanely trapped smoked beaver and he says sales have "almost doubled" over the past week (from what to what, he didn't specify). According to NPR, Brown even printed up a t-shirt with an image that kind of looks like a beaver and bears this logo: "God said it was OK. #Lent2016."

A sneak peak at our beaver. #lent2016 #bbq #moist Posted by Bootleggin' BBQ on Friday, February 12, 2016

If you are wondering whether this is really legit with the Catholic Church, the answer is probably not. Although Dolly Jørgensen, an environmental historian from Sweden, points out that theology dictates avoiding "animals of the land" in favor of "animals of the sea" during Lent, the St. Louis Archdiocese is having none of it. "I've checked with our chancellor for canonical affairs, and he is not aware of any current dispensations along these lines," Gabe Jones, a church spokesman, told NPR.

But, it's all a matter of interpretation. In other parts of this fair nation, mammals that prefer to dwell in water have long been hit up as meat replacements during Lent. Ralph Naveaux, the retired director of Michigan's Monroe County Historical Museum says, "You'll hear legends about muskrats and also beaver being classified as fish, because of their lifestyle of being in the water all the time."

In short, animals that enjoy a watery lifestyle are on the table during the 40-day period between Ash Wednesday and Easter. For example, the Southern Grille of Ellendale in Delaware is serving a $14.95 muskrat dinner this Lenten season. The Captain and Tennille aren't the only ones with muskrat love.

The bottom line is this: People get creative during the Lenten period. In fact, McDonald's can thank the religious holiday for its ever-popular standard, the Filet-O-Fish. Evidently, it was created 55 years ago by a man named Lou Groen, who ran the first McD's in Cincinnati, a heavily Catholic city.

Necessity is, after all, the mother of invention. Beavers and muskrats beware. Capybara? You're probably next.