Cooking Project: The Feast of the Seven Fishes

Every holiday season, in your favourite foodie media, you’ll see a version of this classic Italian-(North) American meal served on Christmas Eve. You should know that Italians from Italy are unfamiliar with “The Feast of the Seven Fishes”. It’s very much an Italian immigrant thing. It caught on in the early twentieth century when the first wave of Italians migrated West and made the most out of the abundance of food available in their new home, compared to the meager rations offered back in the old country.

So why seven? And why fish? Research suggests it’s related to Christian traditions; the number 7 makes frequent appearances throughout scripture and the consumption of meat was outlawed on the high holy days for the purpose of fasting. What may have begun as a humble exercise to curb our gluttonous habits, has subsequently morphed into a celebration of food. Ironic? Yes. Inspiring?

Also, yes.

This feast, consisting of seven courses, comprised of 8 different kinds of fish, and at least 1 liter of extra virgin olive oil, represents the creation of new traditions. The world is different now, and in the spirit of pursuing joy and full stomachs we encourage everyone to spend some time in the kitchen.

Hit up your local seafood market to find the freshest fish available. If you ask nicely, they’ll even clean whatever you buy. 

Make this elaborate meal for an intimate group of seven people (see what we did there?), have some wine and some laughs. Though this feast is designed for the beginner to intermediate cook, don’t feel pressured to make every single dish. We’re not here to stress you out or break your budget! Which is why we did all the thinking and the planning for you. Read on for the menu, recipes, grocery list and execution plan. Buon appetito!

The Menu

Seven courses are a commitment. But we welcome any challenge that offers us the opportunity to sit at an intimate table with our closest friends and family and enjoy a meal made with love. 

The Plan

Click here for the ready-to-print document

This menu is well balanced enough to enjoy over the course of a looonggg evening. By keeping the portions small and your glasses full, you’ll no doubt create some long-lasting memories.

Have a happy (and safe!) holiday season, from our kitchen to yours!

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