A Christmas family feast tradition

December 24, 2007 8:54:22 PM PST
The origin of the Italian Feast of Seven Fishes isn't known, though there are a lot of theories, but for those who celebrate it each Christmas, it's all about family.Christmas Eve dinner at the Venuti home in Haddonfield is wonderfully chaotic with grandchildren and great grandchildren too anxious for Santa to enjoy the delicious meal and wonderful tradition around them.

The Seven Fishes meal is made from recipes this Italian family has handed down for generations.

It took Bob Venuti days to prepare.

"I love this. I don't do all this work. This is tiresome for me. This is a lot of work. My wife and I will fight for three days over this thing, but I do it because of family," Bob Venuti said.

It is a family of little ones just four months and wise ones of 94 years.

"As I'm getting older I'm so glad that I have a beautiful family and they all love me," Great-grandmother Josephine Catinella said.

Around six o'clock, the Venutis sit down to start the feast with an antipasta, then comes the hearty part of the meal, then the dishes keep coming and coming and coming.

The feast includes baklava, a stew with olives, capers, and onions, calamari, shrimp, tuna, crabs, and macaroni.

"Then we'll clean it all out and then comes the chocolate and pastries," Bob Venuti said.

This thirteen-course meal takes four hours to finish up and everyone helps out cleaning up, and the Venuti family says it's all worth it.