Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Portable Traditions

I have always considered myself a habitual person that has a need for comfort and predictability.  I have been told by many close to me that this is the way I am and it is something that I have always embraced.  Though I do like my certain habits and comforts I am beginning to question this label that I have been toting around for so long.  Everyone, myself included, was waiting for a bit of a meltdown when I moved across the country leaving behind everything that I knew.  The meltdown never came.  The same went for Thanksgiving and Christmas, both times I was prepared, so much so that I started psyching myself out, and the days came and went and I had a great time.  I am now starting to think that though those things might have once been true for me, I have become stable and secure in myself to handle the changes that life throws out. 

I have also learned that, for me, having portable traditions is a very comforting thing, especially around the holidays.  Of course there were plenty of things that I missed about spending the holidays in New York with my family, but I was able to continue many of the traditions that I hold dear right here in Sacramento.  For our first holiday season here in California my husband and I were not really sure what to expect, so we fell back on some favorite traditions to give us that bump of holiday mood that the (50-60 degrees!) weather was keeping from us. 

One of the more intricate and delicious of my family traditions is the feast of the seven fishes on Christmas Eve.  There are a few theories of where this tradition came from, most coming from a religious stand point, but for me it is just a wonderfully over the top meal that you don’t do any other time of the year.  Following the rules completely you are supposed to make seven different dishes each with a different type of fish, but since it was just the two of us we had five dishes one with three types of fish. 

I was working Christmas Eve until 7 (oh retail) so Rob got to do most of the fish shopping.  I was actually pretty jealous, he went to a great Asian market in downtown Sacramento and got most of the fish right there.  He came home telling me all about the tanks of live fish, and I can’t wait to take a trip to this market.  Grocery stores can be quite a field trip for Rob and I! 
Turned out to be my favorite

Our menu consisted of:
Smoked Salmon on rye and Caraway seed crackers with herb chevre
Seared Scallops over a salad of mixed greens and herbs with a balsamic reduction
Steamed clams in a White Wine, Garlic and Parsley broth
Spaghetti allo Scoglio
Boiled crabs with garlic and butter dipping sauce (eaten in the dark thanks to our power outage!)
All the color comes from the shrimp heads!

All in all our meal was fantastic and a lot of fun to cook together.  The evening was slow and languorous, as we chatted, cooked and ate with no pressure.  As we found with our Thanksgiving meal (you can read about here) there was a lot of pleasure to be found in the intimacy of a holiday with just the two of us. 

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday, and are all gearing up for an awesome New Year.  And as an homage to my fishy celebration here is some equally fishy reading:

The Big Oyster: history on the half shell by Mark Kurlansky

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Cod: a biography of the fish that changed the world by Mark Kurlansky

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Sex, Death and Oysters: a half shell lover’s world tour by Robb Walsh

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Hope you Enjoy!

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