While the Feast of the Seven Fishes has its roots in a Southern Italian Christmas Eve tradition, it has been adopted and transformed into a tradition of its own by American-Italians. The feast is still held on Christmas Eve and, as the name suggests, it includes seven fish courses. It’s also a beloved tradition of chef and The52 member, Mario Batali.
Here's how Mario describes the tradition:
Growing up in the Pacific Northwest in an Italian-American household, food became almost an obsession during Christmastime. Like many other Italian-American families, we celebrated La Vigilia or the Feast of the Seven Fishes. There are many opinions and thoughts about its supposed origins or why we make seven dishes (some families celebrate with 10 or even 13), but at the end of the day, the feast is less about religious symbolism and more about gathering friends and family for a delicious meal, replete with both time-honored traditions and space for new ones, too.
To celebrate the tradition—and create our own—we’ve teamed up with Mario to create an exclusive digital cookbook (just click here to access it!). The cookbook includes everything you’d need for your feast—from antipasto to dessert—with recipes developed by Mario and executive chefs from several of his restaurants, as well as by our own test kitchen. All of the photos were prepared in the Food52 test kitchen and photographed by James Ransom, then assembled into a cookbook by Mario's team.
Our Test Kitchen Chef Josh Cohen contributed his recipe for Paccheri with Swordfish Ragu (it really is as good as it sounds) and our Chef in Residence Sara Jenkins developed an antipasto dish, Shrimp with Bagna Cauda Sauce and Julienned Kohlrabi.
We also hosted Mario and members of his team in the office to make their own recipes.
Our test kitchen has never smelled better—the list included Linguine with Rock Shrimp, Mussels, and Fennel by Lupa’s Executive Chef Rob Zwirz, Mario’s Eel Livornese, Babbo Executive Chef Frank Langello's Scallop Crudo, and Holiday Beignets from Babbo Pastry Chef Rebecca DeAngelis for dessert.