Wednesday, 23 December 2020 13:08 Written by John Reardon

Hello my Foodie Friends!

Our most relished Christmas treasures come with the decorations, the scents of pine, the sounds of music and jingles, and for many, what happens in the kitchen. Many of our holiday traditions begin in the kitchen. We hold tight to our families’ holiday traditions, especially when it comes to food. There are foods such as; roasted chestnuts, savory smoked ham, fruity cakes, specialty cookies, and eggnog that we hold to as popular holiday traditions. These iconic foods are vital to holiday menus and are fully ingrained in the culture of the holiday, as they tend to be eaten solely during this time of the year. 

Coming together to celebrate the holidays becomes a time of giving.  It is a time to be with your family and show your gratitude and appreciation of what you have. This holiday season, we may be more challenged than others in spending the holidays with those that we love. As we prepare for our smaller gatherings, I reminisce on some of my favorite Christmas Eve’s spent with those that are still with us, and some that I have lost in recent years. 

Through out the decades that have gone by, many of my memories include family and friends who cooked up incredible holiday feasts. I reflect on the Christmas traditions of mine and Paula’s Italian families in which the Christmas Eve Feast cannot be overlooked. In meeting my wife four decades ago, our first Christmas Eve together was spent at her parents’ home celebrating the Feast of Seven Fishes with all of the fish dishes presented that evening. Paula’s family was more traditional than mine, probably because my Dad was Irish so we had a little of each. I watched with a calm expression as my wife ate and relished the marinated fresh anchovies as part of the antipasto.  Jumbo shrimp, baked clams, and fried calamari were also part of the first course, which, I ate too much of. Next an array of dishes began to come out of the kitchen.  These included: the seafood salad, which is a combination of crab, shrimp, calamari, and lobster with celery, olive, and parsley in citronette, the Baccala salad with salted cod tossed with sweet cherry peppers, capers, and olives in a lemon dressing, and then the octopus salad, also known as Inslata di Polipi.  This is where I stopped and stared at the cut up octopus tentacles sitting in front of me and I loudly proclaimed that, well, “I love Fried Baccala” and politely said I must have some. There are many ways to serve fish during the feast. Some people include as many as 12 or 13 dishes, including mussels in spaghetti, fried calamari, anchovies, sardines, whiting with lemon, scungilli, lobster fra diavolo, capellini with tuna sauce, branzino, sole, and shrimp scampi, or linguini with clam sauce. 

Meanwhile back at my house my Mom was cooking an Irish feast for my Dad of Roast turkey and stuffing, clove-studded baked ham, crispy goose fat potatoes, steamed Brussels sprouts, buttery sweet carrots, crispy parsnips, cranberry sauce, bread sauce and gravy. 

The holidays are about getting together and having a good time. It is about enjoying yourself and the people you are with. Cooking for the people you love is a gift in itself. Hold onto the traditions that have been created by generations past; or create your new ones. Enjoy your holiday season. Stop by Compliments to the Chef; your Neighborhood Kitchen and Cutlery store located at 33 Railroad Place to help you with your holiday gifts and culinary needs. We hope that 2021 brings many blessings, laughter, health, and happiness to you and your families.  Remember my Foodie Friends; “Life Happens in the Kitchen” -

Happy Holidays to all of our Foodie Friends!

 Take Good Care,
John & Paula



REARDON SevenFishes

Read 465 times Last modified on Wednesday, 23 December 2020 13:09