I am of Italian extraction. My mother was born in Italy, my father of parents who immigrated from Italy. The seven fishes meal Christmas Eve is an Italian-American tradition. From my perspective, the best meal of the year! No comparison!
I write about it today December 3. Why today 3 weeks before Christmas Eve? Because meal preparation begins today for the meal 3 weeks hence.
One of the seven dishes is baccala. Baccala is cod fish. That dry hard salted piece of fish. It needs to be softened and made tasty for the Christmas Eve feast.
My former wife made the very best seven fish meal. Must give her credit. Her work began today in effect. She would cut up the cod fish into small pieces and place it in a large bowl buried in olive oil, salt, pepper, parsley, and other herbs. Cover the bowl and place it on top of the refrigerator, not in it. Every day for the next three weeks she would take the bowl down, mix the contents and add whatever she thought was required. At the end of 3 weeks and on Christmas Eve, the bacccala would melt in your mouth.
Baked clams were another fish dish. We would enjoy them in a two hour cocktail fest prior to dinner. Together with shrimp. Shrimp two ways. One cold as in shrimp cocktail. The other battered in bread crumbs and eggs and fried in oil.
The shrimp was a substitute for mussels. I never saw a mussel till I began traveling to Florida. I doubt they even could be purchased in Utica back then.
Smelts another fish dish. Smelts fried in oil till crisp. The whole piece, head included, then eaten. Smelts were tiny and thin. About the size of a person’s little finger but thinner. I loved smelts! One of my absolute favorites!
Scungilli. The Italian way of saying snails.
Calamari. Like you wouldn’t believe. My wife would buy the tentacles already cleaned. Being fastidious, she would reclean each piece. She would stuff them with bread crumbs and egg and what have you. Sew each end with needle and thread. Cook them first by boiling. Then place them in a red meat sauce to further cook. Finally, the contents poured over a huge dish of macaroni. Pasta a term never heard back then in an Italian house. The stuffed calamari was to die for!
The final and seventh dish were lobster tails. Maine lobster tails. Big ones. Boiled and then broiled. Served covered with heaping portions of melted butter.
Desert consisted of Italian cookies which my wife started baking about the same time as she began preparing the baccala. She refrigerated them till Christmas Eve.
The meal took a good 5-6 hours to consume from cocktail hour through dessert. Everything slow and leisurely. Family time. Much laughter and recollections of earlier days in all our lives. Recollections especially of parents and relatives dead.
A meal to remember! I have not enjoyed one since 2006. Hopefully will enjoy one more before I pass on.
Today’s podcast goes back to the early days of COVID and the inability to get things like face masks.
Syracuse was decimated by Virginia yesterday 84-62. Syracuse did not have it. Virginia was the better team defensively and offensively. Made 12 three pointers. Threw them in at will. Syracuse shot only 41 percent. Played like a high school team. Mintz only scored 5 points. I was disappointed in Adrian Autry’s coaching.
I watched the game at Jack Flats. Things got so bad, I drank. It was a noon game. I never drink during the day. Two women near me were also there to watch Syracuse play. They left before the game was over expressing themselves to me by saying the game was a “shame” and “disgraceful.”
Syracuse central administration better get its act together. Football and basketball have sucked in recent years. The newly remodeled Dome will never get filled again with losing teams.
Seated next to me were a couple from Galveston, Texas. The husband 76, wife 69. His name John. Hers I cannot recall. They visit Key West twice a year. Have been doing so since the late 1980’s. They were watching Texas play football next to the Syracuse/Virginia TV.
We talked of likes and dislikes. They used to stay at the Pier House till the cost blew them away. Interestingly, they had been to Don’s Place for the first time the night before. Enjoyed their company. They are here till Wednesday. Hope to run into them again.
Syracuse plays Cornell next. Tuesday at 8.
The only State more MAGA crazy than Texas is Louisiana. Deservedly so, Louisiana leads in gun deaths this year. Thirty nine thousand so far.
Remington Arms Company is located in Ilion, N.Y. Ilion is about 10 miles east of Utica. Located in Herkimer County. The County seat is the Village of Herkimer. I tried many lawsuits in Herkimer Supreme Court. In order to get to Herkimer, I had to drive through Ilion and past the Remington Arms plant. A huge massive series of brick buildings.
Remington’s story is one of retribution. Retribution long in coming. Nevertheless due. Retribution for the Sandy Hook school massacre many years ago.
It has been announced Remington Arms will close in March 2024. Its history goes back to the early 19th century.
It is the country’s oldest gun manufacturer. Began making flintlock rifles in 1816. The factory site in Ilion dates back to 1826. Many of its current buildings were constructed in the early 20th century.
Remington Arms presently employs 270. Employed hundreds more prior to Sandy Hook.
Remington’s problems go back to the Sandy Hook school massacre. The company made AR-15 rifles. The weapon used to kill 20 first graders and 6 educators.
Sad that the small village and its local employees will lose what is probably its major employer. In a sense however, it is “justice” for the Sandy Hook lives lost.
Enjoy your Sunday!