Christmas Eve is such a special time for me. My uncle would be out plowing snow with his little truck (because there was ALWAYS snow on Christmas Eve!) while dinner was being made. My Nana was hard at work in the kitchen, and food was ever-present!
Always on the “table” (which was about three different tables pushed together to make room), was “insalate” (Italian for salad), as well as homemade pickled vegetables. My Nana would make the seven different types of fish for the Italian “Feast of Seven Fishes.” You could make any type of fish. Nana made smelts, squid, whiting (my Dad’s favorite), baked and fried haddock, baked cod, and baccala. Baccalà is salt cod. She made it with spaghetti, and she called it her “fish sauce.” I never liked the sauce, so she had spaghetti with nothing on it just for me! I think it’s great for children to make their own decisions on what they like and don’t like to eat. Like my daughter always says today, “Children are humans too!”
Other traditional foods we always had were grapes, tangerines, and mixed nuts…the perfect snacks to set out for nibbling! And always special for Christmas Eve, we had the Mogen David wine…I loved that wine! And of course, we had plenty of desserts! Wow, where do I begin?! We had all kinds of cookies, pies and Italian pastries! These traditions carried on to when my children were young, and one of their favorite treats were always the guanti…they loved how they were coated in snowy powdered sugar!
My Christmas Eve was warm, cozy, and at the same time, exciting.…..it was family. No one ever left the table and wished we didn’t have to. Buon Natale e Buone Feste (Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays)!