CHRISTMAS EVES OF OLD

For those of Italian extraction, Christmas Eve is the more important time of Christmas. The Christmas Eve meal the determining factor.

The seven fish meal of Christmas Eve much awaited as the holiday approaches. Similar to dreams of sugar plums. Except, fish!

Christmas Eve dinner a large gathering for my family. Generally 20-25 for dinner itself. One year, 30.

These are the sit downs. No dining room table large enough to accommodate all. A kid’s table prepared. Sometimes 2. Kitchen table and a card table.

Age determined who sat at the big people’s table. The youngest at the children’s tables.

Took a long time to graduate to the big people’s table. I can only recall death creating a place. Some of the kid’s waited into adulthood. One of my daughters was 24 before a seat was available.

Then there were friends who stopped in to extend holiday greetings. Some intentionally popped in during dinner so as to enjoy the food. Others for desert.

The seven fishes. The same each year in my home. Great food!

Large broiled Maine lobster tails, cold shrimp, shrimp fried in egg batter, fried smelts, cod, stuffed calamari, and baked clams.

The lobster tails were the last to be served.

Cold shrimp during the cocktail hour before dinner. Shrimp fried in egg batter, also. Crispy and delicious.

Smelts! I love fried smelts. Rarely get them these days. Actually, years. Tiny fish deep fried. Eaten crispy, head and all. Delicious.

Cod soft and tasty. The saltiness and toughness long gone. The cod marinated in oil and herbs for 3 weeks. Mixed daily.

Baked clams are baked clams. With one difference. Prepared at home. For some reason, made them taste better.

The stuffed calamari the highlight of the meal.

Large tentacles. The size of a condom or larger. Cut up in 4 inch lengths. Each washed by hand. Took hours. To be sure the calamari was absolutely clean. A vein ran through each piece which had to be removed.

Each piece stuffed with bread crumbs, eggs, parsley and I don’t know what else. One end hand sewed before the stuffing. The other end following the stuffing.

Then boiled for a time. Following which the calamari was cooked in the sauce being prepared for the pasta portion of the meal.

At dinner, a huge bed of stuffed calamari over a bowl of linguine was served.

Each of the fishes tasted even better the next morning cold out of the refrigerator. Don’t know why, but that’s the way it was.

During the course of the morning my children and some of their children would show up to enjoy the cold fish dishes.

Spencer’s at the Reach is serving a special meal this evening. The seven fishes! Were I not enjoying Christmas Eve with Lisa and family, I would be there.

Lisa will prepare a seven fish meal. One problem, however. We have yet to reach 7. I think the most one year was 4. Whatever, the meal will be delicious.

Last but not least is desert. Christmas cookies. The women start baking them 3 weeks before. All kinds. Nothing like black coffee with anisette and too many cookies to top off the meal.

I had so much I wanted to share this morning. Blog too long already however. Tomorrow I will write about the American Christmas. From the Puritans to present day.

Enjoy your tonight!

2 comments on “CHRISTMAS EVES OF OLD

  1. I used to dip for smelt up North when you could get a bushel in a minute when the run was on. Then they became scarce for some reason. Deep fried with cold beer on the side was great. They look like ballyhoo.

  2. Merry Christmas Lou! We enjoyed our feast of the seven fishes last night. Lobster, shrimp, clams, crab cakes, lake perch, stuffed calamari, and baccala. Hope yours was as delicious! We enjoy reading your blog each day!

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