Why seven? Seven is a very important number. It stands for the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church. The seven days of creation. In Biblical numerology, seven is a number of perfection.
And fish is the featured dish because Italians have customarily abstained from eating meat on Christmas Eve. This is the Christmas vigil.
There is no set menu for this feast.
But here are some of the fishes that are traditionally used: calamari (squid); scungilli [skuhn-GEE-lee] (conch); baccala [bah-kah-LAH] (dry, salt cod); shrimp; clams, usually served with pasta; mussels; snapper, trout, tuna or salmon.
We have adapted this menu over the years and updated it somewhat.
So, our annual feast usually includes calamari, baccala, shrimp, crab cakes, tuna, smelts and salmon. The cod and shrimp are served in both cold and fried or sauteed varieties. Shrimp is served as a shrimp cocktail and as shrimp scampi. Crab is served as both breaded and fried crab balls and fresh, cold crab claws. The baccala is served fried and in a salad. The calamari is served baked and stuffed. The tuna is served with spaghetti in a red sauce. The smelts are fried and the salmon is broiled. In addition to all of this it is customary to serve fried cauliflower and Italian greens.
Our feast is usually preceded by cocktails (that's where the cold shrimp and crab come in) with much chatter and anticipation.
And it all ends with a variety of delectable sweets.
The Feast of the Seven Fishes takes up the entire evening -- usually beginning with the preliminaries at around 5 or 6 PM and often continuing into the wee hours of the morning.
Enjoy these photos from our most recent feast.
|The spaghetti with tuna in red sauce.|
|The bitter Italian greens.|
|Smelts, crab and fried cauliflower.|
|Cod and fried cauliflower.|
Chocolates, miniature cupcakes, cookies, key lime pie and the tree.