FEAST OF THE 7 FISHES

christmas eve

 

T R A D I T I O N A L  

 

December 2014

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I love food, family and tradition (although, in truth, not all kinds of fish; but hell, all the chestnuts I can eat!), so this holiday is at the top of the list for me.

My Italian-American family has been enjoying the feast of the seven fishes (festa dei sette pesci, also known as the vigil) on Christmas Eve for as long as I can remember. The seven fish at our feast this year—whether fried, mixed with pasta, rolled up with dill or capers, or tossed into pasta sauce—included: baccalà (salted cod), calamari, shrimp, smelts, smoked salmon, linguine with clam sauce, and baked tilapia.

Of course the number seven has religious significance written all over it, and as for the origins of this tradition, I’ve heard or read a variety, ranging from abstinence to celebration (or, as Mario Batali describes it: “It’s what Italians do when they say they’re fasting.”).

What is your favorite traditional holiday meal? What do you most remember: the way the table looks as the meal is presented, the taste of a certain dish, the texture of the food as each course is savored?

Feast of the 7 Fishes Texture

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