Monday, December 24, 2012

The Italian "Feast of the Seven Fishes"

In many Italian-American households having fish on Christmas Eve is a tradition that was brought here by family members that immigrated from Southern Italy.

We lost our beloved Maria Schmitt this year. She was my first-cousin - the daughter of Frank and Mollie Cinelli. Mollie was the first-born of the ten Rossi children born to Victor and Grace. Maria helped me so much when putting together Rossipes, and she told me the story of the Feast of the Seven Fishes the way they did it in our family:

"In those days we couldn't eat meat on Christmas Eve. We would go to Los Angeles and buy baccala which is a very hard dry fish. Hard as a rock and we would buy large slabs of it . . . then it had to be soaked for several days to make it soft enough to cook. It was probably sent in from Italy that way - well preserved! Then my Mom would make it into several different recipes. It was a tradition. It was fun in those days."

Last April I was co-hosting a baby shower for Maria's granddaughter, along with Maria and Maria's daughter Joanne. After one long day of working on the food for the shower, Maria suggested making Linguine with White Clam Sauce, which was one of her specialties. I had never had it - never thought I would like it - but I was willing to try it that night. It was delicious and so easy to prepare.
Me, Maria, and Joanne getting ready for the baby shower
In honor of Maria and keeping those Italian traditions going, here's a easy dish with fish you can make for Christmas Eve:

Linguine with White Clam Sauce

1/4 cup olive oil
2 clove garlic
1 (8 ounce) bottle clam juice
1 (6.5 ounce) chopped clams
fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper
a little white wine
3/4 pound linguine, cooked
grated Parmesan

Heat olive oil in skillet and add garlic - brown garlic (don't let it burn)
Add the bottle of clam juice and the juice from the can of chopped clams (reserve clams)
Add some chopped fresh parsley and a touch of salt and pepper
Add a little white wine and simmer for about 15 minutes
Add the clams and serve hot over linguine
Top with Parmesan cheese and a touch more parsley.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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