There's Nothing Fishy--And Everything Fishy-- About Italians And Their Love Of Seafood


A nation surrounded by the sea should have some amazing seafood recipes, and Italy does not disappoint. For centuries, all along the Italian coast, fish and other seafood has been harvested and cooked to perfection in a variety of ways.

Many of these delicious dishes are served in Canada's Italian restaurants, but they aren't as well known as the pasta dishes and pizza most North American diners associate with Italian cooking.

Here are some facts about Italians and their love of fish:

Christmas Eve is when fish is definitely on the menu.

Southern Italians take seafood very seriously, especially on Christmas Eve. This is when the traditional Feast of the Seven Fishes is prepared. Fish is chosen because the night before Christmas is considered a vigil day in the Catholic faith, and no meat should be eaten on such days.

Instead of a ham or a pork roast, many Italians will cook up 7, 11, or even 13 kinds of seafood to make up the Christmas Eve feast. Appetizers may include fried fish nuggets and crab dip, followed by dishes like seafood soup, fried eel, and red snapper in marinara sauce.

If your local Italian restaurant serves the Feast of the Seven Fishes as a Christmas Eve tradition, make your reservations early so you don't miss out on this delicious culinary custom.

"Oh, baccalà, or stoccafisso, or whatever your name is."

The cod fish is a staple of Italian cuisine. Once an abundant source of protein for Italians, it saved many from starvation when times were lean.

If you're in a fish market, you'll know who the Italians are because you'll hear them exclaim, "Oh, baccalà!" when they see this salt-preserved version of the humble codfish. There are other Italian names for cod to confuse you, though, so stay on your toes. Merluzzo is the name for cod that's fresh or frozen, while stoccafisso is cod that has been air cured.

Legend has it there are 365 ways to eat baccalà in Naples, but if you can't afford a trip overseas, most Canadian-Italian restaurants will have at least a dish or two you can try.

A squid by any other name is calamari.

When you eat calamari, you're actually eating squid arms, but don't let that turn you off. Calamari is a nutritious and healthy dish that can be prepared in a variety of delicious ways.

Some people prefer their squid in a white or red sauce served over pasta, while others enjoy the small rings battered and deep fried to crunchy perfection. Buffalo calamari is even a thing in some restaurants, with spicy breaded calamari accompanied by blue cheese dressing and celery.

You should definitely order calamari next time you're having Italian for dinner. It's usually on the Christmas Eve menu, too, so you'll be preparing yourself to be a good quest when it's time for the Feast of the Seven Fishes.


7 October 2015

gluten-free diet options in restaurants

Ever since I started a gluten-free diet, I have had to pay special attention to what restaurants I dine in. I have found that many restaurants are making the changes to include several gluten-free options for people like me. How do you find these restaurants and what can you choose on a menu that isn't specifically made for gluten-free diets? This blog contains several tips for making your dining experiences pleasant and diet friendly. You will find many options of foods that are served at many restaurants so that you can go just about anywhere and find something that you will enjoy.