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Seven Fishes for Seven Dishes

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The day before Christmas, it's no meat for me,
Even though I'm a non-believer,
on Christmas Eve,
I only eat from the sea.
The feast should have seven dishes
of fishes that day.
No one really knows why,
it's just what they say.

Here then are the fishes,
in no particular order,
for the feast,
I present to you.
On my own fingers I counted,
to make sure it's true.

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They call it squid, but it's calamari we know.
Cook it fast or cook it slow.
Any other way,
and it's a no go.
Stuff with breadcrumbs, parsley and nuts.
Enjoy the stuffed squid,
but don't eat too much.
There's six more dishes to go,
before you bust.

It comes from a snail, is what I've heard,
this thing called scungilli;
I know, it's a funny word.
Italian Escargot?
The French shake their heads
and say, 'oh no!"
Boil until it's tender, and then chop it
real fine,
add to a salad,
and maybe drizzle with lime.

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Long and slithery,
it looks like a snake.
With dark beady eyes,
this fish is not for everyone's taste.
We call it eel.
In Italian it's capitone.
its flesh is oily,
its look surreal.
Be careful there are bones.
You don't want to choke,
especially while giving the
Christmas Eve toast.
Chop into pieces,
then fry or grill,
with garlic and vinegar,
this eel will thrill.

When the faint of heart see it coming,
they shriek and wail,
'cause it's got a slimy body and a prickly tail.
It's a small fish, the little anchovy,
but the flavor it packs,
makes up for any good looks it lacks.
Dissolve in hot olive oil with garlic, of course.
Add some peperoncini,
and a little broth.
Pour over spaghettini
and you'll be one of the first,
to line up at the trough.

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Four dishes done, three more to go.
The feast of seven fishes,
can become quite a show.
Along the way,
things could get bumpy,
causing anxiety and stress;
a chef could get jumpy.

Time to bring out the fish,
the one that no one complains.
The reliable flounder,
it causes no pain.
Bake it with butter or oil,
some lemon and herbs.
Its mild mellow flavor,
will take the edge off,
will ease the nerves.

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It comes in all sizes, this mollusk of grey,
but I like the small ones;
what they call vongole.
Clean them and make sure the sand is all gone.
Add to a pot with oil, garlic and white wine.
When they open just a bit,
they will release their magical brine.
Eat them from the shell or over linguini.
Either way, you can't go wrong,
with a clam this teeny.

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Oh it smells something fierce,
this fish called baccala,
Just wait till you see it;
it looks even worse.
In a pot or bathtub,
soak it for days.
Change the water
a few times or more.
Yes it's hard work;
it can be a chore.
Do it until that fish;
the one that smells,
grows larger,
until it swells.
Steam or bake,
soon the tender flesh will flake.
With onions and garlic,
what a delicious dish
this hideous monster makes.
Its appeal is so huge,
There's even a poem called,
Baccala Blues.

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The feast over;
all seven fishes you've tried.
But now your mercury level is high.
No fear, everything will be okay,
because Christmas comes the very next day.
There will be more food.
Another big feast.
And this one, I'm sure,
will include juicy red meat.