Feast of the seven fishes is a traditional Italian meal made on Christmas Eve:
MG: “I learned about it from your Dad’s dad. They did it back in New Jersey and we tried to bring it in Colorado. Technically it’s the “feast of the seven fishes” and you’re supposed to have seven fish dishes, but we made some adaptations. Some of the dishes are real traditional. One was salted cod cause salted cod doesn’t go bad when you don’t refrigerate it. Pretty much every ancient civilization had a cod dish cause it didn’t go bad, it smells really bad though. So your grandpa would salt it for awhile and soak it in water and it’s revived and you can cook it. We also had roasted smelt and pickled herring, but no one liked it in Colorado. We had to get the cod flown in too. Back in New Jersey your grandpa would just go to the Italian deli but they don’t have those in Colorado really. We decided it was too much work when the only one who ate it was your dad. Your grandpa taught me how to make the dishes when I would go over when I was still in high school. He would be cooking for days, he would do everything himself. Me and you dad split the work for our version”
How did you change the traditional meal?
MG: “Well we added food for the people who don’t eat seafood. We added ham, eggplant parmesan and baked stuffed shells. But we still try to have seven types of fish, usually raw clams, baked stuffed clams, shimp momma leoni, lobster, king crab, scallops, green lip mussels and blake mussels.”
Who do you invite over for dinner?
MG:”Just family friends and family usually. We try to invite a lot of people because we make so much food. When your grandpa would do it they would invite all their friends, it was like a big party. It’s supposed to have a religious meaning but it was just a big party for their family so that’s what we try to do. It’s not religious at all. A lot of jews end up being there actually cause they don’t have anywhere to be on Christmas Eve”
This was a good example of how traditions can mobilize and adapt to new areas. Additionally, the fact that there was originally a religious connotation but the event could be celebrated without any religious aspect was interesting.