It seems to be common knowledge that everyone in Italy and all the Italians who migrated to every corner of the world celebrate La Vigilia di Natale with a seven fish feast. There was a time when La Vigilia di Natale, Christmas Eve, was a meatless catholic holiday. Therefore, with 2/3 of Italy surrounded by water, it made sense to celebrate with seafood. Particularly, on the eve of the most important catholic day, why not celebrate with seven fishes. To this day we celebrate the feast of the seven fishes.
I hate to disappoint anyone, but many Italians never celebrated the vigil of the seven fishes. I grew up in an Italian household and community, where the feast of the seven fishes was never mentioned. Our families migrated from the northern Alpine and Apennine Mountains of Italy. They were hours from the sea, and fresh seafood was unavailable. It was impossible to celebrate the vigil of the seven fishes.
I recall my first feast of the seven fishes like it was yesterday. Before I left the house I told my father that I was going to my future
in laws for a fish dinner. He said that I was in for a big surprise. Surprise is an understatement. I arrived at the house and when the door opened the magnificent aromas captivated my senses. Everyone was in a joyful mood anticipating the fabulous dinner we were about to feast on. It was a completely new dining experience for me, as the food kept coming and coming. Each course was more flavorful than the previous one. I was in total awe of the meal from antipasto to dessert. The magnificence of the Feast of the Seven Fishes rises above the food that is served. The Feast reunites family and friends.
Over the years our family continues to celebrate the feast of the Seven Fishes. Sadly, we have lost family members through the years and they are remembered fondly at this time. However, a new born always brings joy to all of us. The family continues to grow and the feast continues to give us joy.
As the years passed the menu and the wine have changed a bit. However, this is one of my favorite menus and it includes the wines I like to pair with the menu. Below are my choices for this
Feast of the Seven Fishes and all that has to be done for the recipes is to click.
Astaco e Granchio Insalata — A Tangy Lobster and Crabmeat salad is a great antipasto to start a meal with. With this dish I get two of the seven fish, lobster and crabmeat. Serve with a bottle of Est! Est! Est! a dry white wine that may have a little sparkle.
Vongole Oreganato – A very popular Southern Italian clam dish that may be paired with Sambuca di Sicilia a dry white wine.
Tagliatelle Verde e Gombarone con Salsa Zafferano – We vary from the norm with this Spinach Pasta topped with our Prawn Sauce. For this pasta dish we use Spinach noodles with prawns (or shrimp) in a saffron sauce. Serve with a bottle of Orvieto.
Cozze Marinara — Mussels, the Italian Seafarers Style, which is a fabulous Southern Italian seafood dish. For us our choice of wine is Vesuvio Bianco, Lacryma Christi Bianco
Nonna Carmella’s Spada al Forno – Nonna (Grandma) Camela’s Campania Baked Swordfish that is really tasty. I have never known anyone else to do a similar recipe with swordfish, and she was born in Argentina. Maybe this is an Italian – Argentinean dish. Whatever, you will love it. Torrontes, Argentina’s succulent dry white wine is a super pairing.
Branzino alla Venetzia – We take you to Venice for this simple Baked Bass or Red Snapper in the
Venetian style sauce. Serve with Pino Grigio
Tonno alia Genovese – These are herb infused Tuna Steaks cooked Genoa Style. Serve with Cinque Terre Bianco-white
Trota al Forno con Foglie di Alloro — Trout Baked with Laurel (Bay leaves), this dish is made with sea trout on Christmas Eve. Serve with FrascatiDessert is always too much. I suggest Torrone, which our cousin sends us from Naples, Italy, and a bowl of fresh Zabaione decorated with ladyfingers and struffoli.
Zabaione is a relatively easy to make. Bring a pot of water to a slow simmer. In a bowl or a Zabaione pot put 1 egg yolk, 1 and ½ tablespoons of sweet Marsalla wine and 1 heaping teaspoon of sugar. Place the pot over the water and whip vigorously until you have a cream of soft peeks. Be careful not to make scrambled eggs, and you may want use some elbow grease. To serve place the Zabaione in an attractive bowl and decorate with ladyfingers.