|Christmas Eve Bacalla stew, this and other recipes below|
As part of this years Christmas series today I want to talk about Italian foodways. I grew up in Croton-on-Hudson a small village in Westchester County about 35 miles north of New York City in the beautiful Hudson Valley. There is a long history of Italian migration to the the valley with laborer attracted to my hometown to do work on the construction of the Croton Dam, the aqueduct that provides water to New York City, and the railroad that connects the city with northern suburbs such as Yonkers, Tarrytown, Ossining, Croton, Peekskill, and Poughkeespie among other communities. As a result I grew up with allot of Italians as both classmates and teammates on my lacrosse team and regularly enjoying great homemade Italian food. But until recently I never heard of the Feast of the Seven Fishes a Italian Christmas food tradition that migrants brought over from Italy. So naturally as a professor of history foodways started doing some research into the tradition. It's difficult to precisely pin down the origins put it apparently comes from southern Italy and calls for serving seven different fish dishes on Christmas Eve. There are three popular theories about why serve seven fishes, today I will talk about some of them and share some related recipes: the Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church—baptism, penance, Holy Eucharist, confirmation, marriage, holy orders, and the sacrament of the sick.
Mario Batali's Feast of the Seven Fishes recipes: http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/holidays/christmas/batalisevenfishes
Bacallà stew recipes and more: http://www.stephencooks.com/2005/12/christmas_eve_m.html