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Feast of the Seven Fishes

“The Feast of the Seven Fishes” is an Italian American tradition celebrated on Christmas Eve to commemorate the wait for the midnight birth of Jesus. Seven kinds of seafood are served, though you’ll often find many more than seven varieties on the table I sit at.

It has always been one of my favorite nights of the year because of the incredible food that is passed in front of me. There are baked mussels, steamed mussels, baked clams, minced clams, salt cod, crab and avocado salad, prawns in more forms than you can imagine, maybe some lobster, and some things that I’m forgetting. And there is this fried dough that is chewy and crispy at once.

And then there are fifty kinds of Christmas cookies that SHE effortlessly made all herself. They are works of art.

I am going to miss it this year because I’m in the snowy mountains of Utah. But I will be dreaming about it…

I’ll be dreaming about this fried shrimp for example…

Or shrimp tossed in garlic and parsley and oil…

The long table and the lovely people…

My godfather and Lois…

The lacy tablecloth…

The fried cod!

The fried calamari…

Cappi and Chip and the big bottles of wine…

And that spaghetti with olives and pine nuts…

And that tartar sauce, my favorite thing of all.

It’s all so fun, so very, very fun.

This is the famous fried dough/bread…

This is my pesky, wonderful brother.

My godfather, Aunty and John. Hi Guys!

And goodness gracious, these.

They are sticky and coated in honey and sprinkles. I don’t remember the proper name for them. I call them heaven.

Speaking of heaven, these have been dangling every year for as long as I can remember. I have always loved the hanging naked angels.

And this mantel.

And all of the cookies. The glorious cookies.

And meringues.

And figs and pine nuts among them.

This isn’t even half of them in case you were wondering. I think the Mexican wedding cookies are my favorite… the ones with the powdered sugar.

My brother dutifully serving coffee.

Michael dutifully serving tea. Hi Michael!

The wonderful Aunty. (If you look at the dedication of Food Heroes inside the cover, this is who I’m referring to).

Mama passing the meringues.

And the tea cups that she always has! There is such a collection.

That is because my godfather is masterful at finding things in his travels. Interesting things in interesting thrift stores. He brings back collections.

This was my favorite last year.

It’s fun to pick out your own tea cup at a party. Who needs a matching set anyway? That’s so boring.

Hi Sarah and Jake! Also brother and sister.

Oh how I love them and miss them.

And this is the hometown church where my brother and mom will be singing in the choir this evening with the amazing piano player Michael Shapiro. Remember him?

Every Pellegrini wedding, christening and funeral has been here.

And wreath making activities too.

I miss them all, but it’s always fun to create my own new traditions too.

Merry Christmas lovelies! What is your favorite Christmas tradition?


  • What Julia Ate
    Posted December 24, 2010 at 11:12 am

    Merry Christmas, Georgia! That's is such a lovely looking dinner, of course you'll be sad to miss all this! Christmas Eve is also one of my favorite meals/nights. I still do it, but it's just us three, so it's on a much smaller scale. One thing I never pass on: fried oysters and champagne. Always makes a sparkly night!

    • Post Author
      Posted December 24, 2010 at 4:28 pm

      Merry Christmas Julia! Hope to see you in the New Year!

  • socialxdesign
    Posted December 24, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    What a lovely post!

  • marlameridith
    Posted December 24, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    Merry Christmas to you! This post really captures family time together. Oh happy days! I hope you do enjoy your time in snowy Utah. I am a mountain girl at heart – so I can only imagine how beautiful it is there right now.
    Those sweets you pictured look like sweet fried farfalle pasta – I bet very hard to stop eating once you start. I guess they are some kind of cookie??
    Earlier today I learned about "The Feast of the Seven Fishes" over at Bell'alimento blog. You gals teach me so much, always 🙂
    Hope to see you in 2011. Are you gonna attend BlogHer Food in Atlanta? I think I will. XO

    • Post Author
      Posted December 24, 2010 at 7:47 pm

      Thanks Marla : ) They are some kind of fried sticky cookie… I\’ll ask the name. And they will tell me in a good Italian accent. I hope to be at BlogHer food and to see you there! xo

  • Maria
    Posted December 25, 2010 at 9:16 pm

    What a fantastic feast! Everything looks perfect! Merry Christmas!

    I saw Marla's comment-Are you visiting Utah? I live in Salt Lake City!

    • Post Author
      Posted December 26, 2010 at 8:28 am

      Yes, I'm in Utah now and loving it : ) Spent Christmas at Sundance, a snowy wonderland.

      • Maria
        Posted December 26, 2010 at 6:52 pm

        Fun! If you need any restaurant suggestions let me know:) Enjoy the snow!

        • Post Author
          Posted December 26, 2010 at 7:42 pm

          I'm hoping to come and explore Utah a little bit more soon… in a less isolated way : ) I'll definitely let you know when I'm ready to eat my way around!

  • In Good Taste
    Posted December 25, 2010 at 9:53 pm

    What a great tradition! I am not Italian but I might have to adopt this tradition next year – everything looks amazing!

  • Abigail Hansen
    Posted December 26, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    Hi Georgia! What a feast–every dish looks beautiful and it looks like your family is having a wonderful time together! Judging by the look of them, the Italian cookies you call "heaven" are known as "cenci" in Italian. Last spring in Italy, during Carnivale, I had the pleasure of sampling different regions' interpretations of "cenci." You're right–they're delicious and rather addictive!
    "Buon Natale e Felice Anno Nuovo!"

    • Post Author
      Posted December 26, 2010 at 7:41 pm

      I love it! I didn't even have to make a phone call to find out the name : ) Hope you have a wonderful Christmas!

  • newtsohn
    Posted December 26, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    What a glorious blog entry, this! The values key to cohesive families are oozing through. Gorgeous photos, as usual, are a delight. I’m reminded of Thanksgiving and Christmas when my maternal grandparents were living. Challenged was I to moderate consumption of sweet temptations in advance of main courses. Presently, it lands on my brother and me to take what was best from those years and replicate it, each in our own fashion, for the 21st century. New friends and loved ones join those of us now long in the tooth as we toast, and render our most careful prayer to those who are no longer there — those who gave us all. Those to whom we send our thanks.

    • Post Author
      Posted December 26, 2010 at 7:41 pm

      I hope you had a lovely Christmas with your family traditions : )

  • Elana
    Posted December 27, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    Beautiful post, Georgia. My mouth is watering and my heart is warmed.

  • Rachel
    Posted December 28, 2010 at 11:27 pm

    This is incredible! I also have a serious thing for tartar sauce, how do you make yours?

  • Oliver K.
    Posted December 31, 2010 at 5:00 am

    My mouth is watering too!

  • Deidre
    Posted December 12, 2012 at 9:39 am

    The sticky cookies that you couldn’t remember I think are a version of the Danish cookie: Kleiner. My aunt Denise makes them every Christmas…its her “thing”!

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