An American-Italian Christmas Eve: The Seven Fishes

An American-Italian Christmas Eve - The Seven Fishes via Chrystina Noel

Guys. It’s about time that I share some photographs of what my Christmas Eve looks like. People (who know I have an Italian heritage) always ask if we do “the Seven Fishes” for Christmas Eve. And the answer is yes. Wikipedia tells me that, “the Feast of the Seven Fishes is thought to be a celebration of the story about a fisherman that could not catch any fish and then a fish came up to him and then seven types of fish were caught.” Who knew. All I know is that it’s flipping delicious.

Also, I have technically posted about this before. On January 1, 2012 to be exact. That said, since January 1, 2012 I have gotten a new camera, gotten a few new lenses, and had 4 more years of blogging experience. So we’re going to do a take two of this. (Go ahead, click through to that old post, I dare you. You’ll see why.)

Lucky for me my aunts humored me and helped me get photos of each part of the meal. A big thanks to Aunt J for being my own personal Vanna 75% of the time.

When we arrive at Aunt M’s the table is already set. With chocolates as nametags from one of the best chocolate shops in Connecticut, Munson’s Chocolates.

An American-Italian Christmas Eve - The Seven Fishes via Chrystina Noel

The crab sauce had been on the stove for hours at this point, and Aunt L was given the job of constantly turning the lobster bisque (for at least 45 minutes) until it was served.

An American-Italian Christmas Eve - The Seven Fishes via Chrystina Noel

Which was absolutely worth it. I mean, look at all that lobster. Wouldn’t want that to burn.

An American-Italian Christmas Eve - The Seven Fishes via Chrystina Noel

Also. Just to clarify, Aunt M and Pop actually went crabbing for the crabs, months ago.

An American-Italian Christmas Eve - The Seven Fishes via Chrystina Noel

The first course is shrimp cocktail. The shrimp are usually bought raw, cleaned, and steamed. And it is served with extra martini glasses full of cocktail sauce on the table.

An American-Italian Christmas Eve with Chrystina Noel

Lucky for Aunt L, course two is the lobster bisque. The key to this course is trying not to full up on bread because there is so much more to come. This year’s lobster bisque was extra fantastic.

An American-Italian Christmas Eve - The Seven Fishes via Chrystina Noel

Onto course three. This is where you need the bread. (But still sparingly.) THIS IS THE COURSE WE WAIT ALL YEAR FOR. Pasta and crab sauce. And it’s incredible. So much so that I literally printed a picture of last year’s pasta and crab sauce course and put it on this year’s Christmas card for the family. Because it’s that good.

An American-Italian Christmas Eve - The Seven Fishes via Chrystina Noel

Course four? Course three-and-a-half? This is where it gets iffy. It’s the crab course. There are a few cousins (and Pop) who love this course. For me personally I’ve found that the amount of work is not worth the reward. Also, my nails are usually pretty long so it gets really gross really fast. (I realize neither one of those is a good enough reason not to eat these delicious crabs, but you’ve really got to pick and choose this meal. Why? You ask. Because there’s still a heck of a lot more food.)

An American-Italian Christmas Eve - The Seven Fishes via Chrystina Noel

The biggest temptation this entire meal can be found in front of your face the whole time: the garlic bread. So good, so deadly when it comes to filling up all the space in your stomach before you get to the good stuff.

An American-Italian Christmas Eve - The Seven Fishes via Chrystina Noel

Then comes the main course. (I feel the need to tell you now that I have no idea what the real names of these items are, I made them up. Dear family, please feel free to correct me. Mom, I’m expecting a text message.) It includes: breadcrumb-covered scallops,

An American-Italian Christmas Eve - The Seven Fishes via Chrystina Noel

stuffed clams,

An American-Italian Christmas Eve - The Seven Fishes via Chrystina Noel

lobster tails (the meet from the rest of the lobster was included in the bisque earlier),

An American-Italian Christmas Eve - The Seven Fishes via Chrystina Noel

stuffed shrimp,

An American-Italian Christmas Eve - The Seven Fishes via Chrystina Noel

fried shrimp,

An American-Italian Christmas Eve - The Seven Fishes via Chrystina Noel

broccoli (with options of both lemon and butter),

An American-Italian Christmas Eve - The Seven Fishes via Chrystina Noel

twice-baked potatoes,

An American-Italian Christmas Eve - The Seven Fishes via Chrystina Noel

and sauce-covered shrimp.

An American-Italian Christmas Eve - The Seven Fishes via Chrystina Noel

So what does that look like all together? Well, here’s Aunt J’s plate as an example:

An American-Italian Christmas Eve - The Seven Fishes via Chrystina Noel

My cousins will tell you that my plate during this particular course this year was a complete embarrassment. It had one piece of broccoli, a half a scoop of potatoes, a scallop that I didn’t ask for, and a piece of Alex’s lobster tail because she accidentally took too much food. Next year I’ll play my cards better. I think? That’s always the intention.

After all is said and done, we take some time to exchange presents, and then finally put the desserts out. Most of which nobody has any room for at this point:

An American-Italian Christmas Eve - The Seven Fishes via Chrystina Noel
An American-Italian Christmas Eve - The Seven Fishes via Chrystina Noel
An American-Italian Christmas Eve - The Seven Fishes via Chrystina Noel
An American-Italian Christmas Eve - The Seven Fishes via Chrystina Noel

Now, it is very clear that this takes an army. If you’ve been counting this whole time you know that there are four aunts to split the work for food preparation between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (yes, we eat all over again on Christmas Day). And by “split the work,” I mean the majority of Christmas Eve dinner is prepared by Aunt M (with a few sides and desserts made by other sisters). I’m not sure I will ever actually understand how much work goes into it. But we are all very, very appreciative of it.

So you may be asking yourself? Well, the seven fishes. Were there actually seven? Unclear. I don’t think we ever actually try to get to seven, it just happens sometimes. This year it appears we got to… shrimp, crab, lobster, clams, scallops, Alaska pollock in the stuffing… well, only six. But they were damn good.

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  • Dominic

    Looks Great! We gotta get the names to the foods – update!

    • Hahaha. That sounds just as difficult as trying to get the recipes. I’ll see what I can do for you though. Absolutely no promises. I’ve been trying for 28 years…

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