Stamatis Marinos’s first fish fry was the Skyview Volunteer Fire Company in West Mifflin during a visit to the Pittsburgh area more than a decade ago.
Originally from San Francisco, Marinos, now of Highland Park, said it was an “exotic thing to me,” and he was “enchanted by it.”
Drawn to fish frys as an intersection of faith, food and Pittsburgh culture, he also loved how ubiquitous fish Fridays are in this area — even Arby’s has a fish sandwich. Marinos, who has worked on documentaries before, thought to himself that there should be one about fish frys.
And that thought was in the back of his mind when he later moved to Pittsburgh in 2004. So in 2011, he set out to make the film himself.
That year, he did the first round of filming and created a Google Map of locations, only to find the more popular Pittsburgh Lenten Fish Fry Map and meet its creator Hollen Barmer. Marinos did more filming in 2013.
One of the hardest things as been tracking down when fish frys started, Marinos said. There aren’t good records of the meals as church fundraisers, but they really seemed to multiply in the late ’80s and early ’90s.
Throughout the process, he’s been posting clips to YouTube and hopes to have the hour-long documentary — “Fish Fry Fridays: A Lenten Special” — done by the end of Lent this year.
You can follow the process on its Facebook page, or get a taste here: