December 24th, 2011
Although the best-known observance of the Feast of the Seven Fishes is among American-Italians with roots in the Mezzogiorno, the tradition of consuming at least one dish of frutti di mare or pesci on Christmas Eve, for la Cena della Vigilia, is common throughout Italy and, indeed, in any place where Italians reside.
Centuries before the Renaissance made Italy a cultural mecca, colonies of Genoese, Venetians, and Amalfitani were established around the eastern Mediterranean and even along the shores of the Black Sea.
While Italian emigration to the Americas and Antipodes was driven most forcibly by poverty, most Italian emigration to other parts of the Mediterranean was propelled by politics, the arts, and commerce. By the early years of the 20th century, before the First World War, over 40,000 Italians inhabited Constantinople. Numerous painters, architects, and the activists Mazzini and Garibaldi all lived in that fabled metropolis that spans Asia and Europe. Many of Italian descent still live today in the city now known as Istanbul.
Each year this cosmopolis, which has developed a taste for pizza and all things Italian—from Amarone to Zinfandel, from anchovies to zeppole—is attracting more Italians and Italian-Americans. Those fortunate enough to live there can do their holiday provisioning at a stall like this, where the daily catch from the Black Sea, Bosphorus, Sea of Marmara, and northern Aegean is on offer.
In the belief that peace and goodwill around the world begin at the table,
Buon Natale & buon appetito or, as the Turks would say, Iyi Noeller ve afiyet olsun.