Wednesday 24 December
We know that it's not Chanukah any more, and crab is trafe. But tonight is la Vigilia, which in Italian America is usually the Feast of Seven Fishes. Karen recently reminded Barbara that the only fish dish Ralph always made on Christmas Eve was lobster salad. So in his honor, tonight we celebrated the Feast of One Fish, and that one was a crustacean.
We got home early, so Holt had the chance to make his famous crabcake recipe in advance (stinting on the mayonnaise but adding a little pickled red pepper, as well as celery and scallion) and let the breaded cakes sit in the fridge for about an hour before frying. And you know, they did seem to hold together better during the frying process.
They were amazingly and deliciously served with a salad of tiny reseeded lettuces and arugula that Barbara gathered tonight out of the wintry garden, dressed simply with basil oil and lime juice.Our sole, belated dessert was the eggnog that Barbara had pursued all over town, finally acquired at the local UDF (and adorned with a shot of rum and dusting of nutmeg), polished off while watching the broadcast of midnight mass from St. Peter's in bed, which is what non-Catholics do on Christmas Eve.
So far as we know, struffoli are impossible to obtain in Cincinnati; and probably they've been replaced by artisanal gluten-free miniature cronuts in Brooklyn. But luckily, Karen can still get them at her Shop-Rite in New Jersey, so another Vigilia tradition survives.