Christmas Eve is called “La Vigilia” in Italian, meaning “The Eve.” Fun fact: The English word “vigil” has Latin roots and orignally meant “eve of a religious festival” (an occasion for devotional watching or observance).
Even more fun? Seven courses of fish as a traditional Christmas Eve dinner. Why seven?Â As Michele Kayal writes, It could be for seven apostles, seven sins, seven virtues….Or maybe some places there are nine, even eleven courses. Michele quotes food historian Carolin Young as saying “All of these types of holidays tend to have a lot of bad folklore around them,” so it’s easier just to enjoy the stories rather than try to get to “the truth”.
So what can those less ambitious among us take away from this tradition? How about seafood risotto? One course, several fish Cooking risotto takes time, and the stirring is meditative work, not a bad idea at this time of year. Basically for seafood risotto, you cook the seafood and risotto separately (but good to use fish stock or clam juice for cooking the rice), then add the fish at the last minute and serve. For a recipe, here’s one from Epicurious. For rice, we love Vialone Nano ($5.99). Give it a try!