It seems the only time “fishes” is an acceptable word is on Christmas Eve, when Italians honor the tradition of the Feast of the Seven Fishes, or as they say in the old country, “Esta dei Sette Pesci.” Seafood lovers go crazy for the fish bonanza, but how did it all start, and why?
Legend has it that the tradition started in southern regions like Naples and Sicily but is little known in northern Italy. Though many facts surrounding the feast are unknown, there are two definite truths: It’s about seafood and family.
When waves of immigrants made their way from Italy to America, they brought their cherished traditions with them too, the Feast of the Seven Fishes among them. Observing “Cena della Vigilia,” or the Christmas Eve dinner, started when Catholics fasted to anticipate the birth of the baby Jesus on Christmas Day. The fast would end when they received Holy Communion during Midnight Mass. Since meat cannot be eaten during the fast, Italians indulged in seven different types of fish or “fishes.”
Chef Richard Triptow at Dallas Fish Market will be setting table for his own Seven Fishes tradition that is an extended play on the meal from December 18-23, 2017. Scan his menu below:
OYSTER AND SALMON ROE katsuobushi oil
LOBSTER & SHRIMP SALAD green apple sorbet, serrano, pickled hon-shimeji mushroom
SHE- CRAB SOUP sherry spiked creamy crab base, shaved bottarga, French bread
PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND MUSSELS cucumber- parmesan broth, grilled seaweed bread
PLANCHA SWORDFISH mission ﬁg purée, port beurre rouge, ﬁg and tomato compote