used to hear her talking about it when I was a little kid. Although I shared
many wonderful meals with my dear Aunt Helen, I never had the pleasure of
having the famous Christmas Eve Dinner “La Vigilia” Feast of 7 FishFeast of 7 Fish with her. We always had Christmas Eve dinner with the immediate family and Aunt Helen had the Christmas Eve with her brother and sister and other family
members. Aunt Helen was born in Salerno, Italy and was my Uncle Franks (1 of my Mother’s 3 brothers) better half. So for our Christmas Dinner my mother would
make an Antipasto of Salami, Provolone, Peppers, and Olives, followed by Baked
Ziti and a Baked Ham studded with cloves and Pineapple rings.
Joe, his family and my girlfriend Duyen. We had been talking about this famous
Italian Feast a few weeks previous, and were thinking of making it. Joe told me he wanted to have the Christmas Eve Meal of The Feast of The 7 Fishes, known
in Italy as La Viglia (The Vigil) or “La Festa Dei Sette Pesci,” which is also known in Italian-America as The Feast of The 7 Fish, that signify the 7 Sacraments. Now, how’s all that for a mouthful?
environs of Napoli. The Feast of The 7 Fish is a Southern Italian tradition that does not exist in the rest of Italy, it is of the South. La Viglia, or “The Feast of the Seven Fishes” as it isknown to Italian-Americans commemorates the waiting (Vigil) of the Baby Jesus to be Born at Midnight and the Seven Fish represent the Seven Sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church. Some also that the Seven Fish might signify the 7 Days of Creation, or The Seven Deadly Sins, but most believe the 7 Fish pertain to the Seven Sacraments.
perform the ceremony. He didn’t need to ask twice. I had never made it before
and was dying to do so. For a long time I had yearned to partake in this celebrated old Southern Italian Ritual, and this was my chance. Naturally I was excited, so was Joe.
The anticipation of the Great Feast to come was of happy expectations and excitement.
Italian origins ever ate these wonderful little bivalves. Now-a-days every-body does. As a young boy I remember my mother sending me to Bella Pizza in East Rutherford to get an order of them for her. She always gave me a few and I have Loved them ever since.
ten-pound box from Silvano in order to get them. The best way to cook langoustines is to split them in half and sauté them on each side in olive oil with a little butter and garlic. We served the Langoustines the same way as Silvano does as we feel his recipe is the best and everybody loves them that way. The Langoustines are served with a salad of thinly shaved fennel and celery dressed in olive oil and lemon with some split cherry tomatoes. Absolutely delicious!!!
Earth, well except for Sunday Sauce of course.
experience. It was a huge success but quite a bit too much work and actually, too much food, everyone was kind of full already by the fifth fish. The following year we decided on incorporating the Seven Fish into three courses instead of seven separate ones as it’s just too much, too much to eat and too much to cook, a lot of work, and who needs to work that hard on Christmas. It was a good decision. We
still had 7 different fish, which is a must. Serving these 7 Fish in three courses was a good idea as it is much more manageable that way, both to cook and to eat.
Calamari, which I would not have chosen again because it was a lot of work, but it was Alex and Joe’s favorite and they said that it was a must. This was our Antipasto Course.
Alexandra and her mom helped me, so the amount of work was cut down
and divided into three, “A good thing.”
into the squid.
Fish required for the meal. It consisted of Mussels, Clams, Lobster, and Scallops cooked with garlic, oil, herbs, and just a touch of tomato.
sour onion sauce (Bacala Fresca Agro Dolce). Everybody went bananas for it especially cousin Joe who raved at each and every dish I put down. It’s a pleasure cooking for Joe as his for eating and for the Italian American way of life, the food, the wine, the rituals. Joe truly Loves and savors the experience, so I always love
to cook for him, Alexandra, their children, or just about anyone for who savors
the experience so well. This goes the same for my cousin Anthony Bellino his wife Debbie and their three girls Chrissy, Danna, and Allison, along with all my
close friends and family.
you give two of life’s great gifts, a tasty Home-Cooked meal combined with a
little bit of Love. Scratch that. “A whole lotta Love!”