I learned how to cook from my dad and the Pioneer Woman! I spent a lot of time growing up with my dad in the kitchen trying new recipes. Holiday season was particularly special and I have many memories of coming in the house with those feel good food aromas, staying up late while a meat roasted in the oven, or being outside next to the grill. We rarely ate the same thing twice because he could look at any given recipe and find a way to jazz it up and make it his own. I strive to do that too but I also appreciated the picture by picture recipes of the Pioneer Woman that I ventured into while in college. While we didn't do a lot of cooking for Catholic reasons, I was able to look at both of our family recipes and apply them to special feast days as they related. When I decided to blog these feast day recipes I knew that they had to include pictures for all those that cook like me... "does this look right?" I also appreciate that it feels like we are cooking together, but hopefully while sharing in the joy of Catholic celebrations.
One of my all time favorite Christmas Eve traditions is the Feast of Seven Fishes which is a gift that stems from my in laws. To give some context, I grew up on the bay and not far from Louisiana so going fishing and cooking fish was a big part of my family too. It's no surprise that sitting down at this buffet of fish makes my heart flutter a little bit. The tradition has its roots in Southern Italy and is more commonly known as The Vigil (La Vigilia), the midnight birth of Christ. On Christmas Eve, Catholics are to abstain from meat so instead they would feast on fish. There doesn't seem to be consensus on why seven fishes are made, but we could of course connect that with the 7 sacraments, 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit, or 7 as it signifies perfection. Let me just tell you... this tradition is perfection and I really hope that you give it a try.
Here was the buffet display and wine table that I pulled together for the party I hosted last year. We had to do it a little earlier than Christmas Eve so we ended up with lots of gorgeous flower arrangements from the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe! You're going to have to forgive the non blog worthy, perfectly touched up photos. The truth is that is just something that I hate spending my time doing, I get antsy and I'd rather be out living than making you think that my life looks perfectly retouched all the time on the internet, so welcome to real life cooking with me.
Notes for a successful 7 fishes gathering! Make a few of the menu items cold plates, that way you can prep them the night before. You could also host this pot luck style and have people bring a fish dish. I recommend planning what kinds of fish you want beforehand and assigning so you don't get doubles.
Here is the menu that I chose and of course added extra things here and there, fruit and cheese platters, a small side of chicken Parmesan for the folks that can't do that much fish, side salads, and bread.