Lit’l Christmas Eve

Twisted how our Christmas traditions develop.  Perhaps because they are so varied shows how rich and wonderful our traditions really are.

Following a tradition we made years ago – nothing to do with Christmas – got us into a situation that tangled up our traditions and introduced us to some new possibilities. All of it has made for a most enjoyable Little Christmas Eve.

This latest recipe that got us there grew out of our weekly search for something for Thursday dinner.  For many years, I had a weekly posting at East Ann Arbor Health center, taking me home after clinic past Plum Market, which had great seafood and Zingerman’s bread and of course wine.  We enjoyed the simple meals I took home and at one point realized, who else eats like this?  Thus was the concept of “Jesus Dinner” born.  Some of our entrées even simmered over a charcoal grill, although I don’t think we ever achieved the exquisite offerings of  John 21:15-17.  We did stray to the non Kosher at times.  As long as it came from the sea. It was toward this sin we would go for our next dinner, set to occur on Little Christmas Eve.  That white clam sauce with linguine looked mighty tasty, so there we were headed.

It was also important to eat fish on Little Christmas Eve, a holiday important to Norwegians such as our 25% selves.  Usually the fish is more substantial, like a big slab of gravlax.  For purists, there’s the noxious slab of buried cod, lutefisk.  Peppering the celebration with scallops and other shellfish is allowed.

Little did we know that our clam recipe would drop us into a whole other tradition.  My recipe told me this dish is often the centerpiece of the Feast of the Seven Fishes, a southern Italian tradition where to celebrate the end of the proscription against meat set to occur on Christmas, a feast of seafood gets thrown the night before.  Nothing special about 7, as that was appended in a piece in the Philadelphia Enquirer in 1983.  Looking over expected recipes, I said “not tonight hon”.  We had some scallops in addition and that was that. But pretty dandy nonetheless.  Now we’re eager to see the 2019 movie of the same name (1).  The plot involves a working class Pennsylvania family near Pittsburgh welcoming WASP-y girlfriend for Christmas.  Kathy and I would probably identify with the WASP-y girlfriend, tho’ we both have Pittsburgh roots.  Kathy’s dad was born and raised there and I lived near there for a couple years as I was growing up.

As Jesus said (Mark 7:18-19): “There is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him, but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man.”  So it doesn’t matter much what we eat.  Come these Holidays food takes special significance for the memories it triggers.  But maybe we should just make stuff that tastes good.  America is still the grand melting pot, so why not take advantage of all the wonderful things that have come before?  Kathy and I still haven’t decided whether 2 consecutive seafood nights will be the norm at our forthcoming Christmases.  I have no Italian blood, but my dear dad enjoyed his WWII duty in Rome and my birth mom married an Italian electrician, happily carrying the DeLuca name ever since.  Why not add a little “when the moon hits your eye with a big pizza pie”.  Can’t go wrong when Dino is singin’ ya to it (2).

We did find some Norwegian/Scandinavian music  for our Little Christmas eve (3, 4)

But check out what you’re missing

First, the requisite pot ( a wok here) with the wonderful slop

Probably looks better in a bowl over the linguine. That’s a chunk of a Zingerman’s baguette in the foreground. Sop duty

Finally, if you should wish to reproduce this masterpiece (it’s a very simple recipe that I only changed a little from


  1. IMBd overview. Feast of the Seven Fishes.
  2. Dean Martin Live – That’s amore.
  3. Scandinavian Christmas Songs. Christmas songs from Sweden, Norway and Denmark. Spotify.,
  4. Norwegian Christmas Music – playlist by norwayathome. Spotify.

Published by rike52

I retired from the Rheumatology division of Michigan Medicine end of June '19 after 36 years there. Upon hitting Ann Arbor for the second time (I went to school here) it took me almost 8 months to meet Kathy, 17 months to buy her a house (on Harbal, where we still live), and 37 months to marry her. Kids never came, but we've been blessed with a crowd of colleagues, friends, neighbors and family that continues to grow. Lots of them are going to show up in this log eventually. Stay tuned.

3 thoughts on “Lit’l Christmas Eve

  1. We love Linguine and Clam Sauce! Make it all the time…my recipe is from my Italian boss, Food and Wine director from the Hilton Kazoo…now the Radission. MERRY CHRISTMAS MY FRIEND!


    1. Merry Christmas, Beck! I doctored up the recipe a little, doubled the garlic, took a bigger pinch of those pepper flakes. Making it again tonight with a few more fish dishes so we can get closer to a “Feast of Seven Fishes”. You and Roger have a favorite wine to wash down your lwcs?


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