Christmas is for family, friends, and of course, delicious food! No matter your heritage, it’s a time to come together and celebrate with the ones you care about most. If you’re Italian-American (or married to one), you’re likely partaking in the Feast of the Seven Fishes. Of course, you don’t have to be Italian to adopt this beloved holiday tradition—but a love of seafood is required!
Below, our chefs at Eddie’s on Lake Norman share the history of the Feast of the Seven Fishes and explain how to plan and prepare your version of this Christmas Eve dinner. And when you need a break from cooking and endless holiday preparations, instead of searching for “restaurants near me,” call us at 704-799-2090 to learn more about our menu. It includes savory appetizers, fresh seafood, Italian favorites, luscious desserts, and an assortment of drinks from the bar with daily specials. Buon appetito!
The History of the Feast of the Seven Fishes
The Feast of the Seven Fishes is a Roman Catholic tradition that dates back to Middle Ages Italy and the custom of abstaining from meat and dairy products on the eve of specific holidays, including Christmas. The significance of the number seven traces its roots to the early Catholic Church, which recognizes seven sacraments and seven deadly sins, and the Bible, which features the number seven more than 700 times, most notably in the creation story that unfolds over seven days.
Fast forward to the turn of the 20th century, when Italian immigrants to the United States introduced the Feast of the Seven Fishes to their new homeland. They rekindled the Old Country’s Christmas Eve tradition by preparing a seven-course seafood meal that made them feel close to home and celebrated the sea’s profound connection to Italy.
The Mediterranean Sea is one of the most historic highways in world history, serving as a vital link between Europe and Africa through its ports. In ancient times, this body of water was close enough for trade routes that connected many ports on both continents. However, it played an even more essential role during Roman rule when they expanded their empire with navigation strategies along these shores to reach North Africa.
Today, with its rich, interesting history, the Feast of the Seven Fishes is considered one of the oldest Italian traditions — but we give America credit for that!
What Are The Seven Fishes?
Your entree selections can vary according to your preferences, but the meal usually includes a combination of fish and shellfish. Some families prefer calamari, anchovies, sardines, cod, baccalà (salted cod), eel, and shellfish, while others add salmon, flounder, octopus, or tuna to the menu. You could start with a shrimp cocktail and crab dip appetizers, then move on to linguine with white clam sauce, linguine with mussels marinara, fried flounder, smelts, and Mahi Mahi. The possibilities are endless.
Our favorite spin on the Feast of the Seven Fishes includes these seven items from our menu:
- Bacon-wrapped Scallops – drizzled with chipotle sauce and reduced balsamic vinaigrette.
- Crispy Calamari – flash fried with a side of chipotle sauce.
- Crab Cakes – lump and shredded blue crab meat combined with minced garlic, corn flakes, panko bread crumbs, roasted red peppers, parsley, scallions, Dijon mustard, mayo, and seasoning, sauteed in brown butter.
- Clams Casino – fresh, Long Island littleneck clams broiled in garlic, bacon, panko breadcrumbs, and herb butter sauce.
- Linguini with Clam Sauce – Long Island littleneck clams in shells and extra virgin olive oil with roasted garlic in a white wine, marinara, or fra Diavolo sauce
- Pan Roasted Salmon – served in a blood orange glaze with seasoned julienne vegetables and herbed orzo pilaf.
- Pan Seared Red Snapper – sauteed with mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, and capers in a light white wine butter sauce served with seasoned julienne vegetables and herbed orzo pilaf.
Whatever you choose to prepare, don’t forget the perfect side dishes.
Side Dishes to Accompany Your Feast of the Seven Fishes
At Eddie’s on Lake Norman, we offer a variety of savory side dishes on our dinner menu to complement our mouth-watering entrees. Which ones accompany a Feast of the Seven Fishes best? We recommend the following.
Caesar Salad – consider starting or ending your main course with a refreshing Caesar salad with crisp Romaine lettuce, shaved parmesan cheese, anchovies (which can count toward your seven fishes), croutons, and homemade Caesar salad dressing.
Herbed Orzo Pilaf – this light and tasty favorite offers the perfect accompaniment to fish. Stop by Eddie’s on Lake Norman to sample ours, then make your version of Herbed Orzo Pilaf for your special gathering.
Mixed Vegetables – choose your favorites, like broccoli, carrots, onions, and zucchini, and saute them in butter, minced garlic, salt, and pepper for an easy and delicious side.
Wines to Accompany Your Feast of the Seven Fishes
Our Eddie’s on Lake Norman wine menu offers something to please every wine enthusiast. As an accompaniment to your Feast of the Seven Fishes, consider the following:
- Kendall Jackson Chardonnay, CA
- Willian Hill Chardonnay, CA
- Pomelo Sauvignon Blanc, CA
- Rosatella Moscato, Italy
- Astoria Prosecco, Italy
- Martini and Rossi Asti Spumante, Italy
And for the non-drinker and under-21 guests at your table, serve Acqua Panna or San Pellegrino mineral water—perfect for joining in a toast to friends, family, good health, and happiness ahead!
Don’t Forget Dessert
Even though your guests will feel satiated and happy after dinner, don’t skip dessert, even if it means taking a break to sing Christmas carols or open presents. As a finale to your feast, consider the following favorites:
- Italian Wedding Cookies – these traditional cookies are a crowd-pleaser. Bake your own Italian wedding cookies at home or find them at your local Italian bakery.
- Cannolis – is there anyone on the planet who dislikes this popular Italian classic? Enjoy a cannoli from our dessert menu, then make them at home or purchase them from your local Italian bakery.
- Vanilla Ice Cream – keep it simple with vanilla ice cream. Serve it with your Italian wedding cookies or use it as a standalone dessert and drizzle with hot fudge or caramel (why not both?) for a delectable treat.
- Ice Cream Crepe – make your version of one of our most popular desserts by filling handmade crepes with vanilla ice cream, then drizzling them with caramel and chocolate syrup. Want to try it first? Join us for lunch or dinner at Eddie’s on Lake Norman.
Dine at Eddie’s on Lake Norman to Sample Our Seafood Menu
Before you prepare your Feast of the Seven Fishes, stop by Eddie’s on Lake Norman. You, your family, and your friends can order the seafood we discussed here as a precursor to your holiday meal from our dinner menu. Of course, we welcome you to stop by anytime during the holiday season when you want to step away from the hustle and bustle and relax over an expertly prepared meal from our talented team. Please remember that we do not take reservations, but you can call us at 704-799-2090 if you have any questions. Our kitchen closes on Christmas Day so that everyone can spend time with their families. However, after Christmas Day, stop by and tell us how you enjoyed your Feast of the Seven Fishes!
About Eddie’s on Lake Norman
Ann-Margaret Wagner brings her hospitality and restaurant expertise from New York to the shores of Lake Norman with Eddie’s On Lake Norman. Ann-Margaret is the former owner of a successful restaurant in Westchester County, New York, called The Muscoot Tavern, an iconic “Cheers-like” bar and grille. After visiting Lake Norman, she fell in love with the area, saw potential in the restaurant, and decided to make North Carolina her new home with her daughter Lacy.
After purchasing the business, which was previously Vinnie’s Sardine Grille and Raw Bar, she completely renovated the entire space, sold the other restaurant, and moved south. The kitchen is filled with all new appliances, while the bar, dining room, and back patio were all touched up to create a clean, comfortable and relaxed atmosphere. Whether in North Carolina, New York, or anywhere else, Ann-Margaret’s mission is always to provide the freshest seafood, prime meats, produce, pasta, and bread, every meal.
“I hope you enjoy eating our delicious cooking as much as we love making it for you!”
If you would like to book an event at Eddie’s on Lake Norman, we require a $250 refundable deposit that can be applied to your bill and or credit card used for a deposit. We charge a $50 Event Fee and 25% gratuity, plus tax. For more information, call us at 704-799-2090.
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