And now begins the count down to the next Christmas Eve.
Christmas Eve in my family is everyone’s favorite night of the year, across the board. My parents host at their house in Westchester and 14 members of the family get together to eat for 8 hours straight. We also open presents and sit by the fire and blah blah blah … but eating really is the main event.
My mom and Nana prepare a meal that all 14 of us dream about all year long. In the traditional Italian way, our Christmas Eve dinner consists primarily of seafood … “the 7 fishes” as they say:
breaded and baked shrimp and clams, the best seafood salad you have EVER tasted in your LIFE (roughly consisting of chopped shrimp, calamari, scallops, olives, lemon, garlic, onion and drizzled olive oil), crab legs, filet of sole, lobster tails and plenty of melted butter.
And at the center of it all is my mom’s amazing Cioppino fish stew with homemade foccacia bread. Cioppino has been part of our Christmas Eve dinner since before I can remember and right before my move out west my mom revealed that the inspiration for the dish came from one of her trips to San Francisco. For those of you who, like me, didn’t know, Cioppino originated in the Italian American community out in SF.
This new bit of information definitely made my transition out in a new city a tiny bit easier. Feeling homesick? No problem. Let’s go to the Fog City Diner and order a dish of their famous Cioppino. Not a bad touchstone to have.
I’m getting older and am realizing more and more each year how much work really goes into this special night. And therefore my mom becomes more and more amazing in my eyes. It’s because of her that all 14 of us look forward to this night each year. She won’t agree. She knows its a lot of work but believes anyone can do it. She doesn’t realize how much love goes into what she creates without her thinking twice, which is what makes it so special. I only hope I can create half of the magic she creates for my family down the line.
Stay warm my fellow east coasters… another nor easter is on her way.
ps all pictures taken by myself and my sweet sister