Feast of the Seven Fishes: Celebrating Christmas the Italian Way

Feast of the Seven Fishes

Photo Credit: Mike Slone

Is your mind still reeling, deciding on a healthy Christmas feast that won’t complicate your health or counter your weight loss program? Here is one festive menu for you – “Esta dei Sette Pesci”! It means “Feast of the Seven Fishes.” It is a traditional Italian fare cooked for Christmas. You don’t have to be an Italian to enjoy its health benefits and mouth-watering goodness. It is enough to love seafood to revel in this utterly delicious seafood bonanza.

The Story Behind the Feast of the Seven Fishes

There are several stories about how Esta dei Sette Pesci begun.Get some ideas from Maria Vultaggio of the International Business Times who wrote the post Feast Of The Seven Fishes History 2014: Christmas Eve Menu Item Facts. She says it is definitely Italian and a tradition in Sicily and Naples, yet it isn’t popular in the northern region. In America, the traditional Christmas fare was introduced by the migrant Italians. [Read more…]

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The Essential Cranberry Sauce for Thanksgiving

Cranberry sauceNo matter how plump or well roasted the turkey is, your feast will not be complete without a bowl of cranberry sauce, an essential side dish for Thanksgiving. Although cranberry sauce is a relatively recent addition to the traditional Thanksgiving table, it is an offering that has been embraced as a fitting and indispensible contrast to the turkey and its usual trimmings.

How Cranberry Entered the Thanksgiving Picture

Cranberries are native to North America, predating the presence of the first Pilgrims who came aboard the Mayflower. Their availability in the New World, however, did not mean it was present during the first Thanksgiving meal. In The History Behind 5 Thanksgiving Traditions Americans Love of The Blaze, Billy Hallowell says while these fruits cranberries were very present in America and easy to access, “…The Pilgrims likely weren’t devouring the commodity. Considering that sugar — a key component of cranberry sauce — was a luxury item when the first Thanksgiving unfolded, making the jam was expensive. [Read more…]

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What’s in Your Teriyaki Sauce?


Photo Credit: Sílvia Martín

The term teriyaki has become so popular that in most Westernized cities, anything marinated or served with a soy sauce based concoction is called a teriyaki dish. Taking advantage of its popularity, many food manufacturers have come up with readymade teriyaki sauces; cooks now just have to pour this flavorful mixture to come up with a distinctly oriental meal.

A Sauce with History

Most people associate teriyaki with Japanese cuisine and the word does have its historical roots around the 17th century in Japan. The “teri” in the word refers to the shiny texture of foods marinated or basted with sugar, while the “yaki” can be interpreted as grilling. Ironically, teriyaki sauce is believed to have originated in Hawaii, where Japanese immigrants adjusted their cooking to come up with a mixture using soy sauce and local products such as pineapple juice. [Read more…]

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Celebrating with Pozole


Photo Credit: Martha Silva

Pozole is a rich stew made with hominy and pork. It is one of those traditional foods that take a long time to make, and in pre-Columbian times, it was a ritually significant dish. Today, with the availability of pre-softened hominy and pressure cookers (or slow cookers), making this dish does not have to be the time-consuming process it used to be. However, many families consider it a celebratory dish and in Mexico and New Mexico, it will appear on many tables on special occasions such as weddings, birthdays, New Year’s dinners, and “quinceañeras”.

Video from The Bald Chef [Read more…]

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Spanakopita: More than Just a Pie


Photo Credit: Lokesh Dhakar

Spanakopita is one of the best finger foods you can serve for just about any occasion. This savory Greek pie traditionally comes in the shape of a small triangle, and it is a truly attractive, delicious, and welcome addition to any meal.

Food that Comes with Some History

In What is Spanakopita?, wiseGEEK provides an overview of spanakopita through the ages: “This tasty dish may have originated over 400 years ago, and may have been introduced during the Turkish occupation of Greece. A Turkish dish, ispanaki, is almost identical in presentation, though it sometimes has scallions added. Spanakopita is better known as a Greek food, however, and one will find it served in most Greek restaurants outside of Greece, as well as in virtually all restaurants in Greece. Chefs and food historians credit Epirus, Greece with the most delicious spanakopita. [Read more…]

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From the Middle East: Feasting on Shawarma


Photo Credit: Vera Yu and David Li

Shawarmas are now as easy to get as hotdogs. But you have to admit that there is a different kind of fascination in watching that huge mass of meat slowly turning on a rotating spit with a grill behind it, as your server shaves off fine slices of meat for you.

Shawarmas are just as filling as hamburgers, and they have the added advantage of variety. You can have shawarmas made of chicken, lamb, beef, or veal; and each one tastes as good as the other. What’s more, instead of the ubiquitous bun, you get your meat in a warm pita.

Origins of the Shawarma

In Gulf News’  Shawarma: Arabic Fast Food, Mohammed N. Al Khan quotes Chef Ahmad Salaibi, Head Chef of the Automatic Restaurant at the Beach Centre in Jumeirah. Salaibi says, “Shawarma is the Arabic fast food. The original shawarma recipe is Turkish and known as the Iskandar shawarma,” says Salaibi…”                                          [Read more…]

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Indonesian Perkadel: A New Look at Potato Fritter


Photo Credit: Maurina Rara

Perkadel is an Indonesian dish that uses firm mashed potatoes as base, and it is frequently made with ground beef. It is one of the most popular street foods in Indonesia, but it is a tidbit you can make at home for a family meal or as part of your canapé tray. Perkadel, alternately called perkedel, begedil, and bergedel, is a popular dish not only in Indonesia but in Java and in Singapore as well.

The Roots of Perkadel

Perkedel Kentang is discussed in Indonesian Food, a website featuring Indonesia’s cuisine. The article partly explains where this dish originates from: “The name “Perkedel” is derived from Netherlands. It’s name “Frikadel”and in Indonesian name we called it “Perkedel”. The dish shows the influence of the Netherlands in the art of Indonesian cooking. In the history of the Indonesia, Netherlands was colonized my country (Indonesia). So this becomes fused with cuisine culinary Indonesia… 
“Original of Perkadel made from mincemeat and then fried, but in Indonesia Perkedel made with potatoes with a little mincemeat. And Now many kinds of Perkedel, some made of tofu, potatoes, Corn and tempeh…”

[Read more…]

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Classic Tom Yam – The Soup with Thailand’s Aroma

Tom Yam

Photo Credit: ssour

Tom yam has been referred to as the “national aroma of Thailand”, and it is a hot and spicy combination of tangy lime, lemon grass, galangal (a close cousin of ginger), mushrooms, and chilies. Depending on the kind of tom yam you want, meats and seafood are used as central ingredients in this dish, but prawns are the exceedingly popular choice. To the uninitiated, a first taste of this soup is truly a culinary adventure, and a first sip usually elicits an involuntary indrawn breath from those who are used to Western fare.

The Different Kinds of Tom Yam

This dish is at the very heart of Thai traditional food, but it is also a staple soup in Cambodia, Laos, and some Malay territories; these were part of the Rattanakosin Kingdom, which began in the 18th century.

Some versions of seafood based tom yams feature the addition of coconut meat, or coconut milk, or both. If you want your dish to have the creamy flavor of coconut milk, ask for tom yam nam khon. [Read more…]

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Shark Fins: A Second Look About the Tradition

Shark fin

Credit: Nicholas Wang

Do you know what makes news like this Illegal Shark Fins Discovered at Exclusive London Chinese Restaurant newsworthy? This post by Oscar Quine for The Independent attracted attention for several reasons. For one, the Royal China Club in London’s West End is an upmarket restaurant where a meal costs about £70 per person to an astonishing £2,800 a head for a set menu including shark soup. It is a distinguished by restaurant serving the best Chinese dishes in the capital, and they admitted serving their guests shark fin. This they bring in through suitcases through the airports because they knew these can be confiscated when brought in using the usual importation mode.

“Royal China Club has not removed the soup from its menu but now must import it through legal channels. Shark fin – and all the other ingredients offered by the Royal China Club – is legal if imported properly, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. However, there is growing pressure for restaurants in the UK to remove the ingredient from their menus. In recent years, a third of restaurants who previously offered shark fins have removed it from menus.”

[Read more…]

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Burritos Galore


Credit: Dave Shea

A burrito is a Mexican dish consisting of a tortilla folded over fillings such as meat, refried beans, lettuce, cheese, and salsa. In Today I Found Out’s The History of Burritos, Emily Upton says, “…We can’t be sure exactly how burritos got their name. Some people believe that it could simply be because burritos look a bit like a donkey’s ears or the rolled packs and bedrolls often carried by donkeys…”

How Burritos Earned World Fame

Some believe that the burrito was an innovation that appeared in Chihuahua. In “In the beginning, there were burritos”, Morgan Lamborn shares a widely accepted narrative of how burritos first appeared in the food scene. “Mexican popular tradition tells the story of a man named Juan Mendez who used to sell tacos in a street stand, using a donkey as a transport for himself and the food, during the Mexican Revolution period (1910-1921) in the Bella Vista neighborhood in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua. To keep the food warm, Juan had the idea of wrapping the food placed in a large homemade flour tortilla inside individual napkins. He had a lot of success, and consumers came from other places around the Mexican border looking for the “food of the Burrito,” the word they eventually adopted as the name for these large tacos.”

[Read more…]

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