Italian Christmas Eve
Okay, with Christmas eve fast approaching, I am once again trying to replicate the traditional Italian fish feast of my yester years in Brooklyn. I don't usually serve 7 different fish but I try to have a nice variety. I usually start with a few seafood appetizers like shrimp cocktail, crab dip, baked clams and last year we made gravlax whuch was not really Italian but quite good. Then I serve a pasta dish with vongole, scallops and mussels. I tried a crab sauce one year which was tasty but messy to east and I felt bad about killing the poor guys on Christmas. We usually follow with broiled lobster tails which have been marinated in white wine, butter and lemon. Then I pass out from exhaustion. Anyone have any sure fire standards that always impress? any priceleass Christmas Eve fish memories? I'd love to reminisce.
I dont know about impressing, but at one time or another we have had: Stuffed Calamari (rice), Scungilli with Friselli. We always have Calamari Salad and sometimes Octopus. My aunt liked to fry up Scallops, Shrimp and Calamari and serve them on fake clam shells. Now it is just immediate family, and because I usually have to work, I place an order for fried Shrimp, Calamari, and Scallops. I make Pasta with Lobster sauce because its quick. I ask to have lobsters cut up, just because thats what Mama always did. Ciao
My grandmother always makes a fish stew with shrimp, scallops, white fish, calamari, and squid. It is with a tomato-based broth and exquisite on snowy Christmas eves.
for app's we always had fried smelts (yummmm) and some sort of crab appetizer, usually crab cakes.
YUM! now i'm hungry
Well, I'm not Italian and don't know too much about the traditional feast; however, I did want to give you a heads up on a preview for an upcoming show on Food Network that is relevant to your query.
This coming Sun. at 10pm PST/EST (see link for other show times), FN will be televising a 1-hr. special hosted by Mario Batali and Giada DeLaurentiis called, "An Italian Christmas w/ Mario & Giada." They will be traveling across the US to explore Italian foods and traditions during the holidays. I'm not crazy about many of the FN shows these days, but this one def. caught my eye. Perhaps it can give you some inspiration and nostalgia...
The Christams Eve staples in my parents' house were fried smelts and baccala (in a cold salad and in a red stew). My father would soak the baccala for three days to get it ready. We also had peel and eat shrimp, clams casino, and a fresh tuna stew.
The funny story was when my wife experienced her first 7 fishes dinner. There were only 7 of us (including a 2 year old). When my mom started bringing out all of the food, my wife leaned over to me and whispered, "Who else is coming??" I just smiled.
But ever since I got married, my wife and I rotate holidays with her family. I can't complain though. My wife is Latino, so the years I don't get seafood, I get roast pork, fried plantains, and all the other spanish goodies.
God, I love being ethnic!!!
re: Miss M
There is also another show running on The Food Network about the 7 Fishes Christmas Eve dinner. It's an episode of Food Nation with Bobby Flay that was taped a year or two ago.
It was on last night, but here are the other times it will be on:
December 08, 2004 12:30 PM ET/PT
December 15, 2004 9:30 PM ET/PT
December 16, 2004 1:30 AM ET/PT
December 18, 2004 7:00 PM ET/PT
December 22, 2004 12:30 PM ET/PT
I don't know if you are still checking this, I carry on the tradions that my nana (and supposedly her mother before her, and so on) have always carried on for Christmas Eve. Shrimp cocktail, fried calamari, calamari in marinara, eggplant parm, and most importantly the lobster in the sauce over fettucini. Through the years there were also sometimes anchiovi, scungili salad and other additions, but the basics never change. Good luck and Buon Natale!