It’s the day before Christmas Eve, and because of matters of mental health I’ve just now begun thinking about Christmas Eve dinner. Traditionally at our house it’s the big fish dinner, but this year it’s gonna be not so big. I’ve decided on improvisations on classics such as pizza di scarola, this one Frenchified with comté and Niçoise olives, because, well, they’re what I’ve got in the fridge. And—I can hardly believe this—I’m making only one fish dish. But it’s bucatini with clams, the king of Christmas Eve fish offerings. This year I’m going to add thyme, a touch of Pimenton de la Vera, to give it a smoky edge, and, I think, roasted yellow cherry tomatoes. I can’t skip the Sicilian blood orange and fennel salad, so that’ll be in its rightful place. And for the grand finale, I’ll be making my stupidly easy crustless ricotta cake flavored with orange flower water. For me that beautiful essence is the aroma of Christmas.
Okay, so I’m knocking this thing out, a little edgy, probably a Xanax or two added to the mix, but it’s all going to be fine. As my friend Barbara says, “Just light a lot of candles. Then no one can see the dust.” So true.
Merry Christmas to all my wonderful and faithful readers. I know you’re all cooking up something nice, no matter what your mental state. Because that’s what we cooks do.