An Italian Christmas Eve

Do you do fish on Christmas Eve?! We do it each year! It’s an Italian American tradition. It’s the tradition that my father grew up with because of my grandmother. After her passing in the 80’s, my mother continued the tradition for him (and us) and after my mother’s passing in 2009, it’s the tradition that my sister and I have been continuing ever since… “The feast of seven fishes” started with Catholics not being able to eat meat on Christmas Eve. There are multiple reasons as to why it’s 7 fish. They say because of the 7 sacraments. They also say because 7 is just a symbolic number in general. I like to think of it as hey, the more fish the merrier!

One important dish of the evening that my mom would make is calamari with angel hair pasta in a red sauce. My sister now makes this delicious dish for Christmas Eve and throughout the years has included the mussels, scallops and lobster tails right into it as well. This dish pretty much covers most of the 7 right there!…

Keeping up with traditions!

While my sister continues to carry on my mom’s calamari with red sauce, I continue to carry on the fried end of things for the evening… Mom always had to have a simple fried flounder on the table. Simple, yet, the messiest dish to make! Breadcrumbs and oil everywhere, but worth every bite! Just to keep things messier for myself, I’ve also added throughout the years fried cod bites as an appetizer too cuz, why not!?

Fried flounder, fried cod bites and a flaked baccala with potato app.

While the calamari and flounder are our 2 main entrees set out on the table (along with ALL of the other seafood apps and sides) there is a main component that should be a part of it all too, in somehow, someway. That’s baccala of course! Baccala is a salted cod. My mom and dad never cared for it, so it wasn’t part of our feast. I decided a couple of years ago to take on the challenge of incorporating it in there somehow. It’s usually a main entree, but, I have found it to be quite the pleasant appetizer instead!

Dried, salted cod has to be soaked in water for like 2 days, kept in the fridge changing the water a couple times. Once you follow that process, boil some peeled potatoes, drain and mash them. Flake the fish into the potatoes. Add a splash or 2 of milk, bit of butter and capers. Serve as a spread with saltines and it’s an absolutely delicious appetizer! (Pictured above)

Of course, aside from all these delicious dishes, we can’t leave out any stuffed clams, crab dips and just your average shrimp 🍤

Little bit of seasoning is all you need!

Along with the feast of seven fishes (I think we’ve amped it up to about 10-12 by now) My mother would also make her traditional Italian cookies for us to enjoy afterwards. We now make them all too. They are recipes that will be around forever!

Italian S cookies, black bottoms (little chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese) Lemon butter cookies, and filberts (nutmeg and cinnamon bars with nuts and chocolate chips). Accompanied by a small tray of struffoli of course! Aka Honey balls 🍯
The Queen of Christmas fish herself, my mother in pink with me on her lap and my 2 sisters by her side…

These dishes and treats have all been carried down by my ancestors from both sides of my family for generations. They are recipes that will be carried down for even more generations to come. Keeping up with these traditions is super important to me! It’s what keeps our loved ones going. Go ahead and carry on those traditions for your loved ones. You’ll be glad that you did! Have a Merry Christmas everyone!

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