Smelts…and the feast of the seven fishes (what is your favorite food memory)

23 Jul

Without a doubt,  my favorite food memory comes from growing up in an Italian-American family and celebrating something called “the feast of the seven fishes.”  Every Christmas Eve, my family would gather and share an enormous spread of seafood dishes. A large portion of my family were chefs and restaurateurs,  so the food was top notch. When I was younger (and more of the older Italians were around), the dishes were more authentic to the tradition. I remember things like squid, smelts and anchovies.  Anyone else have different variations of this? Some of the dishes were ugly, but tradition, so they were made regardless how much people wanted to eat them.

As time went on, compromises were made, some of the not so attractive dishes were replaced with more appealing seafood, like mussels or lobster. Meat was never eaten though…. Traditionally, the feast represented the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit and also the seven sacraments of the church. Families abstained from eating meat until Christmas.

I never thought about any of this, to me it was all about being prodded by old Italians to eat repulsive looking smelt, sharing a great meal, and enjoying the company.


The memory of the feast is probably one of my fondest growing up…..

What is your favorite food memory???

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