Festa dei Sette Pesci (The Feast of the Seven Fishes)

What's a lapsed half-Catholic to do on a Christmas Eve better than attend a Feast of the Seven Fishes?!

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My friends Jim and Kandi invited me to join the crowd of 30 or so at their house this year on La Vigilia (Christmas Eve) for their yearly bash.

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The southern Italian tradition has some origin in the whole 'no meat on Fridays' thing, but has gotten out of hand and now commemorates the 'Vigilia di Natale.'

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Though the number seven is referenced, some families might serve 10 or as many as 13 dishes commemorating either the sacraments, stations of the cross, or the apostles + Jesus.

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Traditional fancy items might include  Baccal√† (Salted Cod), Fried Smelts and Anguilla Livernese (Eel with Olives, Chiles, and Capers).

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^ As a bonus, we get Jim's red sauce and his famous meatballs – he'll have some sauce leftover for Christmas Lasagna.

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Even the kids were diggin' it. Buon Natale!