If you’ve ever spent Christmas Eve with an Italian-American
family, chances are you’ve had a lot of seafood. Traditionally, Italians will
fast on Christmas Eve to keep vigil, which basically means abstaining from meat
(though in my house there definitely wasn't a lack of food, so we
could hardly call it a “fast”).
Instead of meat, they eat a buffet of fried seafood. It can be any kind of seafood and isn't necessarily limited to seven, but there’s usually a lot. My family has always focused heavily on
shellfish -- shrimp, crab, scallops -- but the definition has gotten looser and
sushi is now a staple of our yearly feast.
Why is it Seven Fishes, though? Apparently, it’s just a
really popular number in the Bible, from the number of days in the creation
story to the number of sacraments in the Catholic Church. Either way, it’s a
solid theme to plan a menu around and gives you lots of variety, especially for
a seafood potluck. Check out some of my family’s favorites and some classic
Seven Fish’s recipes!