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is an act of integrity, and faith."


from Christmas Memories with Recipes
Linguine with Crab Sauce (Linguini con Granchi)



SeaBear Smokehouse 

"Christmas Eve was a night of song that wrapped itself about you like
a shawl. But it warmed more than your body. It warmed your heart...
filled it, too, with melody that would last forever."

~ Bess Streeter Aldrich (Song of Years)

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from Christmas Eve – Seven Fish, Seven Ways

Edward Giobbi, © 1988

Christmas Memories
with Recipes
1994, Wings Books, a division of
Random House Value Publishing, Inc.


(from the Editors): “Artist and author Edward Giobbi has combined both his vocations in an unusual Christmas Eve custom – seven fish served seven ways
– a custom that may have grown from the observation of a fast day. Dining on
family-crafted dishes and place mats, the Giobbis have created a warm and
festive evening that reaches out to friends of all faiths…”

“Christmas Eve is the most important holiday of the year for our family and has
been since my childhood in Waterbury, Connecticut. It was always wonderful,
even during the Depression, when there were very few gifts and very little money
for food. The mystery of the Nativity and a feeling of good will were still strong
and steadfast, and somehow my parents always managed to scrape together a
wonderful dinner on Christmas Eve despite the hard times…
…My mother came from a small town in the central part of Italy near the
Adriatic, by the name of Centobuchi. There the tradition was to serve fish on Christmas Eve. She had brought her traditions with her to this country, and
despite the Depression we ate fish, marvelous fish, served different ways on Christmas Eve. It was a magical time. We ate in the kitchen, which was heated
by a cast-iron kerosene stove, just my mother, my father, my two sisters, and me.
The table was bountiful, and there was a tangible, reverberating joy of being
surrounded by the mystery of the Nativity…

…It reached a point in the late 1930s when the tradition of serving seven
different fish seven different ways took hold… I was told that the seven fish represented the seven sacraments. For my sisters and me, these seven courses
were utterly captivating. And although, as with most children, fish was not
our favorite food, we looked forward to the dinner with jittery anticipation and actually counted the courses to make certain seven, not six or five, appeared…
… When I got married, my wife and I continued the tradition of my family’s Christmas Eve dinner, and our children – like my sisters and me – though
not especially fond of fish, eagerly awaiting the holiday, counting the fish
dishes to be certain there were seven. Our children are now adults and the
custom lives on through them. Tradition is a form of constancy [a precious
and rare commodity these days!] and it seems to me that constancy of a plea-
surable experience is something everyone quietly hungers for, and needs.
Fish is consumed on Christmas Eve in Italy perhaps because of the import-
ance of the symbolism of fish in the Catholic Church. Our dinner is difficult
to prepare, but my mother looked forward to it, as do I. To prepare each fish
properly, it should be cooked just before serving, unless the recipe indicates otherwise. This means your selection of recipes and timing has to be very
accurate, especially since the majority of the recipes should not be prepared
ahead of time.
The following menu is a typical Christmas Eve dinner served in our home.
Final decisions for the menu depend upon whatever fish are available at
that time.”

Baked Stuffed Littleneck Clams (Vongole Ripiene) *
(a recipe my mother always made on Christmas Eve)
Grilled Long Island Scallops
Fried Whitebait with Lemon Wedges
Shrimp and Artichoke Hearts San Benedetto Style *
(Scampi e Carciofi alla San Benedetese)
Linguine with Crab Sauce (Linguini con Granchi) (below)
Baked Cod with Broccoli de Rape *
Cuttlefish with Fresh Peas (Sepe con Piselli)
Ellie’s Pecan Pie and Almond Biscotti
Ellie’s Bread
My best homemade wines reserved for Christmas Eve

 Linguine with Crab Sauce (Linguini con Granchi)

“You will note that the crabs used in this recipe are for flavor only. They are
not served as part of the Christmas Eve dinner. There is a charming reason
for this. Crabs are messy to eat and should really be eaten only with one’s
hands. On Christmas Eve everyone is dressed to the hilt. In truth, they are
not right for the occasion, but are wonderful reserved for another time
[Christmas night, perhaps?].”

Serves 8 as the pasta course of Christmas Eve dinner

3 cups ripe tomatoes, [or canned imported Italian
plum tomatoes] peeled, seeded and chopped
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large red or green bell pepper, chopped fine
3 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley,
plus additional for garnish
2 large garlic cloves, chopped fine
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper or
hot pepper flakes to taste
1 pound dried linguine, preferably imported Italian
8 live blue crabs
1/4 cup brandy

Push the tomatoes through a sieve. In a wide, shallow saucepan just large enough to hold the crabs without overlapping, combine [the tomatoes,
olive oil, bell pepper, parsley, garlic, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper or
hot pepper flakes].

Clean the crabs: Turn each crab over, life bottom flap, and pull off the top shell with your hands or force a thick-bladed knife under the shell to pry it loose. Rinse the crabs. (If you prefer not to clean the crabs yourself, have your fishmonger o it, but use them immediately.) Place the crabs in the
sauce, partially cover, and bring to a boil. Boil gently for about 1 hour. Remove the crabs from the sauce and reserve them for another meal.
Cook the linguine in rapidly boiling salted water for about 7 minutes. Drain
the linguine – it will be definitely undercooked and this is as it should be –
add it to the sauce, and pour in the brandy. Cook the mixture, tossing constantly, over high heat for about 2 minutes, until the sauce thickens
and the pasta is cooked al dente. Serve immediately on heated plates
and garnish each portion with chopped parsley.

Featured Archive Recipes:
Angel Hair Pasta with Crab and Pesto
Cavatelli with Garlic, Crab, Chile,
and Trebbiano (Mario Batali)

Garlicky Linguine with Crab, Red Bell
Pepper and Pine Nuts

Spinach Linguine with Crab Meat,
Tomatoes and Capers

More Christmas Memories:
Robert Finigan
Marcella Hazan
Jenifer Lang
Jacques Pepin
Julee Rosso
Helen Witty


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