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!