For Italian-American families like mine the Feast of the Seven Fishes devoured on la Vigilia (Christmas Eve) is the meal of the year. Ironically the feast is a partial fast. Only seafood is served and in our home red colored fish, shells and sauce are prohibited. While some families serve 10, 12 or 13 courses, we serve a mere seven to represent the seven sacraments. The religious symbolism has become an afterthought while the meal is a yearly reason to gather family and friends around multiple tables with copious amounts of delicious simple food and wine.
My maternal grandparents from Campania – the Pompeo-Aliberti family – hosted this affair. At its height we numbered 70+ (aunts, uncles, cousins and the plumber). Wine was at the ready, always red in a jug by Papa’s feet and bottles on the white-pressed tablecloth which inevitably became speckled with rose-colored patterns and oil stains by the time the pasta course graced our bowls. And without exception there was one bottle of white placed by Aunt Joyce, my Scottish great-aunt who loves pinot grigio.
With the 24th quickly approaching, prep starts at Casa Tringali. Mom continues this tradition for us. From soaking salt-cod in water to de-salting anchovies. I look forward to sous chef duties and I’m having a blast pairing wines for our seafood marathon. While you may like to have simple suggestions for food and wine pairings on hand, these rules are meant to be broken. Drink what you love. That’s what I’ll be doing on Christmas Eve as I pull up my chair to our table with spirits of Christmas past and a jug of red wine by my feet.
Continue reading “The sumptuous 24th” for my wine and beer suggestions.