Christmas eve in my familyâ€™s home means a fish feast. Part of our religious tradition is that we fast and do not eat meat the night before Christmas. Of course fasting in Italian culture is relative: being relegated to eating no meat calls for an extravagant feast of fish! The tradition is that there are seven different dishes that are part of the meal, representing various different religious symbols depending on who youâ€™re talking to. Some Italians have eleven different dishes and some have thirteen. Growing-up, this meal consisted of traditional dishes that I really did not care for and it was demanded of everyone that they ate at least seven different items off of the table. Over time my familyâ€™s tradition has meant an elaboration on the theme and now every year we have some of the traditional dishes supplemented with the best of whatever the market has to offer on Christmas Eve. This year we had the traditional suspects: â€¢ angel hair pasta with clam sauce â€¢ salt cod fritters â€¢ rapini with garlic and olive oil â€¢ stewed chick peas flavoured with salt cod â€¢ fennel â€¢ potato salad made with cauliflower, poached salt cod and infornata olives and the not so traditional additions: â€¢ poached shrimp â€¢ steamed crab legs â€¢ calamari in spicy tomato sauce â€¢ a raw bar of oysters, clams, sea bream carpaccio, jumbo scallops seviche, and octopus and seaweed salad The days of my dreading this meal and trying to eke out seven dishes to get the eyes of the adults off of my plate are long gone. This has become the most anticipated celebratory meal of the year with much planning ahead of time to one up years past. Click here to sign up for Christine's Food for Friends e-newsletter!