Growing up half-Italian In Utica , NY was pretty cool.Â In this insulated little city, weÂ dominated politics, crime, and the Mohawk Valley food scene for as long as I was there.Â It was great and weird, butÂ I didn’t know any better.Â I just assumed that being American meant being Italian-American and that nobody could touch us. The gleaming gold chains, ridiculous rides, and the way Deniro and Pacino set Italians up as heroes on the Big Screen, well, we were due for a fall.
When I moved away from home I was actually intrigued that there were pockets of folks who were prejudiced against Italians (reminiscent of Pesci’s plea for help with a ‘Jew broad‘). My patience was already spent by the ItalianÂ folks I knew who spoke perfect Upstate NY English except for the occasional butcheredÂ Sicilian pronunciation of an Italian delicacy… “pass the manigot“…”it’s greens sauteed with proszoot“.. and the Tony Soprano endorsed … ” Carm, did you get any gabagool?”.Â Mayonnaise faces hate it when Italians talk like this, and can you blame them?
So it was not surprising that my friends gave me the come-on-you obnoxious-Italian look when I told them we were thinking about having a Feast of Seven Fishes at my house xmas eve.Â ” That much fish sounds gross!’Â was their obvious reaction.Â If you don’t know what this tradition is all about,Â you can check it out here.Â I guess it bugs me a little bit as well.Â Last night I was watching the No Reservations Christmas Special and there was a segment on this tradition.Â At one point the voice over proclaims, “This feast is followed the Italian way, by eating fish all day, and all night.”Â Now that is gross.Â Why can’t Italians just have a couple different seafood dishes and be done with it?
Anybody who knows me is aware that I love a goodÂ compromise…part selfish grandstanding, part easy cop-out.Â So this Christmas Eve I am compromising and cooking some seafood, but I wouldn’t call it a feast.Â Maybe some shrimp for my daughter, a nice tuna steak for my wife, and definitely some calamahd for the whole fameeleeah.