Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Gather Around The Fish

~ Illustration by Chloe * 1st Grade * Kearney, Missouri

Today I am exalted!  It is a cool, crisp, winter's day at 43°, and I have managed to get some things accomplished before day's end.  However, I will check my thermometer later, and we'll see if it has changed any, once my post is done.   Sometimes it takes me a few days to complete a post, even with prior research and notes, and, we could be back in the 70's, lol!  

***  I do want to welcome you all, and extend New Year's salutations your way, once again.  It appears as though the celebrations were successfully launched on the eve.  There were a lot of fireworks going off in my area, but, I chose to stay in and watch TV while I ate my Hoppin' John.

~photo by Suzanne * 12-31-16

 * * *
And, now you ask, "Why did you call this meeting?"  Well, I learned something new during the Christmas season.  A custom that has been around for many years, came across my desk at the KardKorner, and I was challenged to do a bit of  research on it.

Yes!  It is "The Feast of the Seven Fishes", also known as "La Viglia"!  I know you all probably beat me to the punch, and already know this...it's been a Christmas Eve celebration of the Italian-Americans since the early 1900's.

In Southern Italy, this celebration is known as 'Viglia di Natale' for the midnight birth of the baby Jesus.   Actually, Christmas Eve is a fasting day, dating from the Roman Catholic tradition of abstaining from eating meat certain times of the year.  However, there is no such feast noted on the Roman Catholic calendar. 
 One or two types of fish are prepared 7 ways, or, seven different fish are prepared, or up to nine or more different fish or dishes are prepared in order to discourage the eating of red meat until Christmas day.   The Italian-Americans believed that the tradition would encourage the families to feel more rooted and connected to the sea, and, to Italy.  I can sense the happiness and joy of sharing this feast with family and friends, laughing an reliving older times!

~ Italian Immigrants

Some say the adoption of the number seven is derived from different Catholic symbols:
1.  The 7 Sacraments
2.  7 Days of Creation
3.  7 Deadly Sins

*So how did they  come up with the term "Feast of Seven Fishes"?   Well, that's what I'm here for!  It seems as though, (one tale) it started with a fisherman who couldn't catch any fish!  Then, one day a fish came up to him, and, somehow 7 types of fish were caught that day!

*** I don't buy this story! 

Well then...how about this one?  Rizzi DeFabo, restaurateur of Rizzi's Malabar Inn, in Crabtree, Pennsylvania says, "Some say the term came from the 7 hills of Rome, or the 7 Winds of Italy, or the 7 Wonders of the World."   DeFabo also stated that, "The Northern Italians don't really know about this custom.  It's from Naples on down."  

~ Rizzi's Malabar Inn, since 1935

~ Rizzi DeFabo

Here is DeFabo now!  The restaurant serves smelt, calamari, shrimp, eel and baccala three different ways -- stewed, in a salad, and, deep-fried. It is accompanied by spaghetti with raisins, walnuts and breadcrumbs with garlic and oil. His grandmother always made cauliflower battered and deep fried. The signature dessert is panettone, a holiday cake.
DeFabo considers baccala, which is dried cod, the most popular holiday fish.

* This is some great & delicious looking food, isn't it!

"No expense is spared to buy the fish for Christmas Eve," DeFabo says. In over 85 years, his own family has been host for 32 or more family members for the traditional Christmas Eve dinner at their home near the restaurant.  Family togetherness is important, DeFabo says, if you want to follow the popular Italian saying "Natale con I tuoi; Pasqua conchi vuoi," which means "Christmas with your family; Easter with whomever you wish."

* An Italian family celebration

Here are some of the popular dishes for the Feast:

* Octopus Salad * Hey!  I have tried that one...it's a bit chewy!
* Deep fried shrimp * Yum!
* Cod Fish balls in tomato sauce * sounds good!
* Stuffed, baked Lobsters * I bet this is to die for!
* Linguine with Anchovy, Clam, Lobster, Tuna or Crab Sauce * Yes!
* Shrimp Cocktail * You bet!
* Deep Fried Cod * Can do!

What do you think?  It all sounds good to me, and I'm considering this feast for my next Christmas Eve meal (of course, I'll probably be the only one eating it too, lol).  Not all of my family members are fond of all of these dishes, but, we'll see!

*** Many thanks to all of you for stopping by today.  I hope you will step in and say hello!  I look forward to seeing you all during the year, and, maybe some of you shy ones will step up and give us all a shout out! 🐟

I also want to thank my resources for helping me with this post:
 Yahoo images
Rizzi DeFabo

***  I am extending a special thank you to my mom, for the inspiration leading up to this post.
 *** And, a great thank you to my featured artist Chloe for her beautiful fish drawing!

Soooo...as I said at the beginning of my post, "It is a cool, crisp 43° today."  Well, dear readers,  life sometimes jumps in, and I had to put this post on hold for a few days, (about 1 week).  Upon its completion, I am looking at temperatures of 74° today!  Go figure!!!  It's a beautiful springlike day in January, 2017!

"Good things come to those who bait!"  Honestly, I don't know who said that, haha!


  1. Hello, I love fish cooked many ways. Except for fried foods I try to avoid. Lobster is delicious. 73° is wonderful, we had a warm day too.
    Have a great day and week ahead!

    1. Eileen, I'm with you. I try to stay away from fried foods, I love grilled and broiled fish! It has been a beautiful day here in Texas. Thank you for stopping by, and, have a great evening!

    2. Hello, I love the grilled or broiled fish. I hope you are having a great weekend. Enjoy your day and Sunday ahead.

    3. Grilled Salmon is the best with pineapple grilled too. It is cold and rainy in Texas this weekend. I'm just staying in to stay warm. Thank you for coming by Eileen. See you soon!

  2. Hello Dear Suzanne, first of all... congratulations to Chloe - her drawing is gorgeous and colourful and looks far too Beautiful to eat ;D)
    I did a quick research on your Hoppin Joe meal and saw that it's traditionally eaten at that time of year. Do you eat it as a hot or cold meal - or both?
    I loved reading about the Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes tradition too. A healthy one as well - the shrimp cocktail and linquine appeals to me.
    Ooh yes your temp of 43degF is cool - that's about 6degC in ours... double doona time!
    Have a fabulous year Suzanne, I'm sure you'll be filling it with lots of happy times.
    Hugs and cheerio for now :D)

    1. Good evening, Sue. I think Chloe has a good art teacher, and they actually have a website to post their drawings on. I didn't know about the Feast of the Seven Fish until my mom spoke of Chloe's picture. She asked me if I wanted to write something about it. Then Chloe's mom was good to send me the link to get her drawing. What an interesting feast! As a fish lover, I am already considering it for Christmas Eve next year!
      The first time I made Hoppin John it was as a salad. This time I did the hot version of it-much better, and, it was spicy! A lot of people I know eat blackeyed peas on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. It was very good.
      It's hard to say what our weather will do...we usually have a colder February with ice storms. Happily, I am not to worry anymore about driving to work in the ice, and, it causes great laughter within me, haha!
      Thank you so much for stopping by, Sue. Have a great week, maybe you and MD can do a surprise coffee post one day! See you soon, hugs! ♥

  3. Hi, Suzanne!

    I am uncharacteristically late to your post this time, but apathy is not to blame. I am late because this post did not show up in my reader until this evening. I'm glad I didn't miss it!

    Our temps are on the rebound after an overnight low of 37 two nights ago. It was the coldest air of the season. However, we are in the midst of a warm-up and are expecting a high of 80 late in the week. I see that you are also experiencing a warming trend and had a nice springlike day today. I am wishing and hoping for more winter weather so please remember to forward your next cold front to me. :)

    When I read that you ate Hoppin' John on New Year's Eve I drew a blank - never heard of it. Mrs. Shady is the culinary expert and so I shouted to her in the other room where she is knitting and asked if she knows what it is. She hollered "red beans and rice." Is that correct? Whatever it is it looks delicious. I love beans and rice.

    I agree that first grader Chloe did a fine job on her colorful fish drawing. Thanks for explaining the tradition of "The Feast of the Seven Fishes" and its origin and all its variations. Nobody ever needs to twist my arm to get me to eat fish or any other type of seafood. It's my favorite type of entree and I would be happy to eliminate meat from my diet and eat only fish if Mrs. S would let me. All of those seafood dishes offered by that restaurant in Western PA make my mouth water and I'd love to try them.

    Thank you for a very entertaining and informative post, dear friend Suzanne. I hope your year is off to a great start. (There aren't very many shopping days left before Christmas, you know, so you better get your list together and start shopping. :)

    Enjoy the rest of your week, dear friend, and I'll connect with you again soon!

  4. Well, hello Shady! I know Blogger can sometimes give you a run for your money! This will be the third time I am trying to reply to your comment from last night.
    I didn't know about the Feast of the Seven Fish until my mom mentioned it, and the fact that little Chloe had done a drawing in her art class. Mom said I may want to write a little about it, even though Christmas is over for the year. It's never too early to plan though, is it! I will trade a t-bone steak any day for a a grilled Salmon steak. Just love the fish and seafood.
    Hoppin John is actually blackeyed peas, but black beans can be used as a variation. My recipe included a lot of onion and celery, tomatoes, cumin and Creole seasonings, chili and jalapeno peppers, garlic, of course and colored bell peppers. What a treat with the rice and a nice buttered biscuit!

    And, this morning, we're starting the day of with 60 degree temps. I think it will get to almost 80 today. So I just assumed you got the cooler temps out your way.

    Thank you so much for stopping by Shady. It's hump day. Hope you are doing well. Have a great day! ♫



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    1. Wow! Good Morning, anonymous, and, welcome to the KardKorner! I guess the title of my post, "Gather Around the Fish", confused you into thinking I meant "There are Plenty of Fish in The Sea."
      Or perhaps you just picked my blog at random, since you are not a follower of KardKorner. I visited your blog earlier, and, I was not compelled to leave a comment, since the subject matter is negative and of no interest to me. I can't bring myself to grace your blog with my input. If you're in need of the attention, I'm not your girl, I'm an American woman! Have a great day!

  6. Hi Suzanne. Well, I just typed a long comment, and then I lost it all!! 😟😟. First of all, I loved your comment to Anonymous above. Oh dear! 43 degrees to 70's. Crazy, isn't it?!! Loved the story about the fishes. You did a lot of research there. Well done! I love fish, I must admit. We get lots of lovely fresh fish where I live, with the sea all around us. Have a good week ahead my friend.

    1. Hi, Thisisme! I know what you mean about losing stuff you're typing. I did that just the other day, and it was frustrating.
      Anonymous didn't really deserve a reply, but, he hopes we will all come to his blog and leave our remarks! How disrespectful some people can be.

      I like quite a lot of different fish, it is delicious, I must say. But I have never eaten Sushi, don't know if I would like it. I bet you get some really good fish to eat. And, broiled fish is so light, not filling you up too much. I enjoyed learning about this celebration. I'll bet it's a lot of fun for the large families and friends!

      Thank you so much for stopping in. I guess you know, Green Bay is playing football with Dallas today, looks like the Packers are beating us so far! Have a good week, take care dear friend! ♥


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