We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Around the HQ, we stick with the un-Yankee, Southern Italian/Sicilian Christmas Eve fast, which means seafood. In past years, I have had the real 7 Fishes with fried baccala, steamed mussels, scungilli, etc etc. A wonderful fish feast which it would be a stretch to term "fasting." The Catholics are very clever with their concept of fasting.
The best-known Sicilian Primi is Pasta Con Sardi - pasta with anchovies (ie small sardines) - what I term Pasta With Minnows aka Pasta with Bait.
What is an "anchovy"? Never, ever use those tinned brown over-salted anchovies that they put on cheap pizzas. Disgusting stuff, cat food for a cat you hate. If you can't get fresh anchovies (they are white) at your local fish market, use the canned white anchovies in olive oil. Tasty. Good Italian markets have good fresh or oiled white anchovy filets.
Here's the recipe. Yes, to be authentic it needs the breadcrumbs. And here's another Vigilia favorite: Fried Baccala Balls. I've also had these with mashed potato in the cod mix to hold it all together. Nothing is more delicious.
Traditionally, you have to have Struffoli for dessert even though I find it inedible.
Truth is, in recent years we just make poached salmon with yogurt-dill sauce, to be ready to serve at room temp. after getting home from church.
Another delicious salt cod dish is salada de bacalhau. It's a favorite in Brazil and consists of salt cod, diced potatoes, diced onions, green beans, olive oil and some spices. It's a meal unto itself and tastes very good and most probably good for you too.
Our tiny town's stores don't run to anything as exotic as anchovies. We can get decent salmon, though, certainly up to poaching standards, and I've come to be a poached-salmon hound since I've discovered how fast and easy it is. I like to poach it with preserved lemons and sometimes a little powdered pho base added to the poaching liquid. Counting removing the skin and boiling it for a few minutes to produce a bit of fish stock, the whole thing can be done in half an hour for a quick lunch.