As I won't be blogging tomorrow, I am sending my Holiday Greetings out today. Those who know me might also know that I am no longer an adherent to any religion and I often find the Christmas holiday to be a mixed bag, to put it mildly.
People who otherwise have no religious affiliation or who are Christian in name only, make a big deal of the holiday, or should I say worship mainly at the Church of Consumerism for the holiday. I don't know. Perhaps Christmas is just more of a secular holiday than a religious one. In any case I am not inclined to celebrate it in either its religious or its secular aspect. BUT....
... My Italian-American heritage has left me with Catholic DNA in my make-up and so often the Italian and the Catholic are so intimately entwined as to be indistinguishable. There are innate urges, like those of the swallows that must return to Capistrano, that make me do things like make cookies and other holiday foods.
I was thinking how, on Christmas Eve, in Catholic tradition, we were not to eat meat. In response to that directive, Italians invented the Feast of Seven Fishes, the evening (or day long) meal for the Vigilia di Natale, Christmas Eve that consisted of several (not necessarily seven) fish dishes.
I don't remember any reference to "seven" fishes when I was growing up but dad's mother always made bacala (salted cod that had to be soaked for days in water) and pesce stock (a dried, unsalted cod) as well as anchovies in fried bread (pizza fritta) and calamari in tomato sauce. Mom would make fried smelts and capitone, a large eel. So I can only come up with six! When we would have Christmas Eve at my house, I always made baked stuffed shrimp (7). But we never had all seven fishes in one meal.
My recent trip to Sprouts Market made me abandon all hope of having even one fresh fish entree for tonight ($$$). Besides, fresh seafood in New Mexico is suspect. We may have a chunk of breaded fish from the freezer section of Costco. And I have some bread dough and anchovies to fry. I do like the pizza fritta con alice (pronounced al-ee-chay).
As my days during Covid are pretty much occupied with some kind of health care appointment or another, grocery shopping (often curb-side pick-up) and my hobby:cooking, food is, fortunately or unfortunately, a recurring theme. Add gardening, more food, in season. So I make pasta, sauce, bread, cake, cookies. I can't help myself.
So on to Christmas dinner tomorrow. We invited four of our neighbors (Denise, Heather, Bruce and Katie) and will serve antipasto, homemade ravioli (I made 72 ravioli the other day, they're in the freezer) with meat sauce, beef-turkey meatballs, Italian sausage, salad, homemade bread, wine, coffee cake (mom's recipe for "Jewish" Coffee Cake with my substituting plain yogurt for the sour cream in the recipe) and ice cream. Maybe some aperitif or cordials. Leon bought whisky for Bruce.
It won't be elegant as I don't do elegant very well. It will be Italian-peasant-festive style.
We don't have a tree indoors but the pinon outside is decked out with found objects, Mardi Gras beads, old plastic baubles, ribbons and pine cones. Leon threw up some lights and I put out the "one-piece" Nativity set. I don't know how others find the energy to decorate, or enjoyment in decorating to the hilt for the Christmas holiday. I'm always relieved to put it all back in the garage and "get back to normal" after the New Year holiday.
So much for that. So here's my Holiday Greeting Card(s):
I made these 11"x14" cards for my cousin Rose, a teacher, now retired, about 35-40 years ago. She would use them in her classroom for singing the 12 Days of Christmas. She also brought them to family gatherings at the holidays to aid in the sing-a-long that she loved to lead. She recently sent them back to me after cleaning out her teaching materials.
So here's wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Delightful Twelve Days.
Peace, Love, Health, and stay Well,
From Frank and Leon