Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve Traditions

A tradition that I have come to love is our Christmas eve " Fish" dinner*. This is a traditional southern italian feast in which many different dishes are created with fish. Every year the menu varies a bit in our household with my husband planning and executing the meal. It takes a lot of planning and preparation and shopping at specialty stores to get just the right ingredients and best selection of fish.

Christmas 2010 Barb, Aria, Mike, Daniele

My husband, Mike usually creates a menu based on the fish each family member has requested that year. In the past we have had an assortment which included: shrimp, oysters (raw, deep fried, in a stew), calamari (deep fried, stuffed), steamed crab, lobster, baccala which is a salted cod and a variety of other seafoods in sauces, fried, and stuffed, name it. It's all wonderful. Here are a few photos from past years.

Fried shrimp and a stuffed calamari ...

Two kinds of crabs.

The preparation after days of shopping takes place the morning of the feast. Pounds of fish need to be shelled, deveined, and cleaned. Mike is busy in the kitchen all day long.

Don't throw the shells out. You can boil them in water, the broth can be used for great sauces and stews.

Everyone helps out. There's alot of breading of scallops, oysters, shrimp etc.

After trays of seafood are breaded, Mike begins the big task of frying. Meanwhile pots are steaming crabs, butter is being melted for broiled scallops, lobster or shrimp and pots of mixed seafood sauces for pasta are simmering. Mmmm the dinner is almost ready.

Mike prepares the plates to serve.

This year we will be having our traditional "Feast of the Fishes" with Mike's italian family in Ohio. This night will be especially fun and meaningful as we will be feasting with his parents, his brother and his family and our daughter Aria and her boyfriend Daniele who happens to be from southern Italy. (Mike's mom who has cooked this meal throughout Mike's formative years will get to sit back and relax as Mike and his brother cook tonight). I'll have to share photos with you later.

Happy Christmas Eve everyone!

*Feast Of The Seven Fishes
The Feast of the Seven Fishes is an ancient Southern Italian Christmas Eve tradition and can actually feature anywhere from seven to 13 fishes. The feast sprang up as a response to the Roman Catholic Church's decree against eating meat and meat products on certain holy days. The whole season of advent leading up to Christmas was this type of fasting time. So, resourceful Italians turned this fast into feast of fish and seafood — traditionally cooked in oil.
But why the Feast of the SEVEN Fishes? That's not exactly clear: for the seven sacraments, seven virtues — there are all kinds of theories. But whatever the reason, the feast endured, and when Southern Italians began to immigrate to the U.S., the feast came along and became an Italian-American tradition as well.

3 comments: said...

Such a lovely post! I've partaken in a feast of the 7 fishes, but never really knew the background of it. I think it's great that everyone pitches in with preparation - more fun! Wishes for more fun family fun and heartfelt time to you all. Buon Natale!

Holly said...

love you guys!!

nancyhol said...

What a wonderful tradition! The dinner sounds delicious!

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