For Catholics, Christmas eve is one of the days in the year when people cannot eat meat. It is one of the important “vigils” in the year, supposedly a day of religious rituals and meditation. Over time this turned to a sumptuous dinner day, with plenty of food prepared in many elaborated recipes, from appetizers to desserts, with many ingredients. But meat, of course 🙂
One of the main ingredients for the Christmas Eve dinner is fish. It is a tradition in Naples to buy it fresh on the night of December 23rd at the open market “‘ncopp ‘e mmura” (“by the walls”), located as it is by the old city walls around Porta Nolana. On the 23rd, after dinner people would go there and grab the fish needed for recipes like the “seppia imbottita” (stuffed cuttlefish, similar to the recipe published by Monica recently), or “spaghetti a vongole” (spaghetti with clams).
As we spent Christmas in Naples we went there for a walk. It was the usual fiesta of people, fish, life. Plenty of people, many more at 11pm when we headed back. Plenty of fish and other food, displayed in a joyful way over large stalls set outside of much smaller shops. In some places where stalls were closer, lines formed of people trying to walk past.
We don’t buy fish there anymore. Actually we don’t buy fresh fish at Christmas. It’s hard to believe that fresh fish supplies can be so flexible to accommodate such a peak of demand at Christmas with fresh fish, so my parents prefer to buy fresh fish in Procida weeks before and freeze it themselves. Nevertheless it is a very enjoyable experience to go by the walls for a humanity immersion and to perpetuate a centuries old tradition.
Happy new year to all by FourItalianFriends!