Christmas Eve in January

Volume 10, Issue 5; 29 Jan 2007; last modified 08 Oct 2010

My favorite meal of the year.

This year (well, last year, but let's not be pedantic) we celebrated the Christmas holidays with my folks in England. It was wonderful, but one of the minor consequences of this plan was that we missed Christmas Eve dinner with my in-laws. Christmas Eve dinner with Deb's family is the traditional “seven fishes”. Quite possibly my favorite meal of the year.

Now, what Italian mother-in-law is going to let any part of her family miss a meal? Food is love, after all. So shortly after our return from the cruise, Poppy and Ginny came up and we had our own Christmas Eve dinner. December? January? Who cares?

The exact seven fishes vary a little bit from year to year (and quite widely from family to family), but ours are usually:

Raw clams and fried calamari.

Scallops and shrimp scampi. Deb suggested blackened scallops this year because, frankly, the more traditional white sauce sort of competes with the delicate flavor of the scallops (in our humble opinion). Cajun blackened isn't exactly italian, but maybe next year we'll try them with a drizzle of olive oil and red pepper flakes.

Mussels in red sauce and scungilli fra diavolo. The scungilli in particular goes fantastically well with the pepper biscotti.

And, last but not least,

angel hair pasta with olive oil, garlic, and anchovies. The dessert course.

If you're going to make this yourself, the secret is more garlic. Always more garlic.

And, even though we call the olio the dessert course, the traditional dessert is red velvet cake.

Yummmmm! And we get to do it all again in only eleven months. Hurray!

Thanks Poppy! Thanks Ginny! And Merry Christmas, of course!

More photos on Flickr.