Pass the nuts but hold the baccala

It is that time of year to wax nostalgic about Christmas' past. Flowing from the keyboards of bloggers are mouth watering Christmas Eve food recipes which have been traditional in their families. I'm not going to join the crowd. Christmas Eve for me was memorable because of family gatherings - not because of the menu.

As a youngster, I knew that Christmas was just around the corner because of a creature that had taken residence on the front porch. My Pop had taken some hard earned coins and purchased a Pesce Stocco also known as Baccala. If neither label rings a bell, try dried Cod.

My family was not particularly religious ( I never saw the inside of a church until I was almost a teenager  - but that's another story). In spite of this, the Christmas Eve menu was devoid of meat. I believe it had something to do with fasting, a Papal decree or in our case, tradition. Be that as it may, on Christmas Eve, Baccala was the treat. Having observed that ugly fish frozen stiff on the front porch, I was sure that not even my Mom could make it fit for consumption. Sure enough, the first taste convinced me that baccala did not a Christmas make.

Suffice to say that my parents were not exactly pleased with my rejection of the centerpiece of Christmas Eve dinner. Mind you, there was a Depression going on. They began to wonder if the wrong child had been delivered to their home when I turned thumbs down on another Christmas Eve specialty - pasta con sarde. As far as I was concerned, pasta was meant to be served with meatballs and sausage not some picayune sardines.

Having rejected a good part of Christmas Eve dinner, I was sure my Christmas stocking would be filled with coal. I knew that my Christmas was doomed when I refused to eat the snails. As an adult I became fond of escargot ( probably because of the name) but as a youth I questioned the sanity of anyone wanting to eat a snail.

Before the evening was over I did manage to get some food into a barking stomach. The cannoli were great as well as the nuts and fruit.

As for Christmas present, pass the nuts but hold the baccala. Buono Natale!

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