NEW YORK (1010 WINS) — Stand in the middle of the kitchen at Felidia’s restaurant and you’ll see plenty of moving parts and plates.
The Italian restaurant on East 58th Street and Second Avenue is gearing up for the week leading up to Christmas.
Reporter Juliet Papa of 1010 WINS spoke with chef Tonnato Nicotra, who described some very special Italian Christmas Eve traditions, including the Feast of the Seven Fishes.
While there are many ideas about where the tradition comes from, there is consensus that it carries religious significance.
Some point to the seven Sacraments in the Roman Catholic Church as well as the Catholic tradition of refraining from eating meat on days of religious significance.
“We serve five, seven and thirteen fishes,” Nicotra said. “Some region is seven, some region is 13.”
As for the five-fish option, Nicotra, who is from Sicily and grew up in Piedmont, said that it was the short version for people who don’t want to eat too much or sit at the table too long.
There is no set menu for the celebration and dishes can range from calamari to shrimp and, of course, fish.
Nicotra also told Papa that the establishment must prepare far in advance of the traditional feast.
“We start the Monday of Christmas week…and we go over [to] Christmas Eve,” he said.
With tastes from southern Italy to the northern mountains, Nicotra’s expertise will be on full display for restaurant patrons.