At its November meeting, the members of UNICO National Delmarva Chapter gathered at the home of President David Jones and his wife Christine to prepare and enjoy special dishes reminiscent of the seven-fish Christmas Eve supper shared with family and friends in years past.
The seven-fish tradition for La Vigilia di Natale, Christmas Eve, is one brought by immigrants from Italy, primarily from the south where fish is a common staple and when the main meal of the holiday is served; in the north and central regions, the Christmas Day menu tends to be more important.
Although the origin of "seven" is somewhat of a mystery, some believe that it is related to the seven sacraments or the seven virtues of the Roman Catholic Church; others say that it relates to the phase of the moon - seven days - a connection to the Saturnalia celebrated by the ancient Romans; and still others think it stems from the Seven Seas. Whatever the belief, the number seven is strongly held in the Christmas Eve menu of many families.
Some of the traditional recipes members shared were linguine al pescatore, with seafood sauce, baccala, salted cod, gambrel variati, a variety of shrimp dishes, and many more. Favorite desserts were also enjoyed, such as struffoli Neapolitan honey balls, panetone Milanese sweet bread, biscotti, and cannoli cake.
During the meal, memories of Christmas holidays which inspired these recipes and those who prepared them and made them special were the highlight of the evening's conversation.
The next UNICO Delmarva Chapter meeting will be in January. For more information, call David Jones at 302-542-5286 or Maria Teresa Morrison at 302-226-0620 or look for notices in the Community Events section of the Cape Gazette.