Tuesday, September 27, 2022

The Feast of the Seven Fishes comes home

No one really knows when the Feast of the Seven Fishes became popular.

What is known is that it’s the only time you can say the word “fishes” and not be corrected (except for the phrase “sleeping with the fishes” … also acceptable).

We also know the tradition appears to have originated in Southern Italy and in Sicily and made the most of the Roman Catholic rule about requiring an abstinence from meat before Christmas Day.

You can, however, eat fish and dairy, and drink wine. Thus, we have The Vigil (La Vigilia), which is the celebration of the midnight birth of Jesus.

Why seven fishes? Here is what Maria Laurino says in The New York Times.

“Italian-Americans of all generations reach back to their heritage, and their cookbooks, as guides to preparing the feast of the seven fishes. The significance of seven types of fish has yielded numerous theories, including a correspondence to the number of sacraments in the church, the seven days of creation, the seven virtues of Christian theology, and a reminder of the seven deadly sins. Families have their own interpretations, perhaps
based on the region from which their ancestors came; and the number of dishes prepared can vary widely — from 3, representing the number of wise men, to 13, signifying Jesus and the apostles.”

This year, Kingsmill Resort will be serving the famous meal in addition to the more familiar Christmas trimmings this December 24th.

Executive Chef Justin Dallinger will start the celebration with salads and antipasti, cheese selections and Campari. It’s all seafood all the time: the appetizer is the Ensalate di Pesci Napoletana, a bounty of conch, shrimp, calamari and scallops, all frolicking with olives, celery, roasted red peppers, olive oil, basil and garlic.

The feast continues with grilled lobster and saffron risotto, fried calamari baskets and corn and crab chowder. In addition, Chef will be preparing Sea Bass alla Veneziana (fish is pan seared and accented with capers, olives, cherry tomatoes, anchovy, garlic and basil) and Cacciucco (shrimp, monkfish, clams, mussels and octopus with Pinot Grigio, plum tomatoes, basil and chili flakes). It’s a catch that Poseidon would admire.

For those who can’t be without meat on Christmas Eve, there is Veal Marsala and Chicken Scalopini Picatta on the menu too.

The entire meal (with dessert) costs $36 per person (over the age of 13), $22 for children 5-12 and under 5 are free (beverages, gratuity and tax not included). To make an overnight booking and reservation for the Seven Fishes celebration, call Kingsmill Resort at 800.832.5665.

Kingsmill, an AAA Four Diamond condo resort, is located on the James River in Williamsburg.

Kingsmill Resort is also featuring special holiday packages, including the Christmas Town and the Bed and Breakfast package. Each include in-condo decorations with a tree, stocking and even a woodburning fireplace.

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