Baccalà: The Italian Christmas Eve Tradition

Learn about the Italian Christmas Eve tradition baccalà!

Learn about the Italian Christmas Eve tradition baccalà!

Baccalà, or salt cod, is an appetizer or main course in Italy that is traditionally served on Christmas Eve. The codfish has been preserved in salt, and when prepared correctly, the flaky texture and intense flavor (which is never fishy) makes this dish truly unique and special. You can buy your Christmas Eve baccalà right here at Giolitti Deli’s, but don’t wait! Start thinking about placing orders soon, as we will not be stocking extra- special order only!

About Baccalà

Cod is an interesting type of fish, as it is one of the only fish that naval battles have been fought over, and has been at the center of trade wars for centuries. Cod also goes by various names based on the method of conservation. For example, it is called “cod,” or “merluzzo” in Italian, when it is fresh or frozen, “stockfish” or “stoccafisso” when it is air cured, and “baccalà” when it is salt cured. Baccalà is especially famous in the city of Naples, where they claim to have 365 different ways to eat the dish. It is also considered a delicacy in Veneto, as Baccalà alla Vicentina and Baccalà Mantecato are two favorite regional recipes.

The Seafood Tradition

For Italian-Americans, The Feast of the Seven Fishes is a popular Christmas Eve celebration, which consists of seven different seafood dishes. However, in Italy, it is not a called a “feast” in the sense of holiday, but rather a grand meal. Traditionally, baccalà was eaten on Fridays when eating meat was forbidden for religious reasons, and no fresh fish was available. As Roman Catholics observed the tradition of abstaining from eating meat on the eve of a feast day, many observant Catholics in Italy would also eat baccalà on Christmas Eve.

Preparing Baccalà

When preparing the traditional meal, it’s crucial to purchase good quality, well-preserved product. Baccalà needs to be soaked in clean, fresh water for a minimum of 48 hours (though most recommend three days), and the water must be changed at least three times a day. Before cooking, peel off the skin and remove any bones from the fish. You can prepare your Christmas Eve baccalà in many ways, but it pairs best with acidic flavors, such as tomatoes, capers, and marinated artichokes.

Authentic Italian Cuisine From Giolitti Deli

Giolitti Deli is a full-service Delicatessen in Annapolis, MD, specializing in authentic Italian cuisine. Founded in 1992, we use the freshest ingredients to make time-honed recipes from scratch, with no MSG or preservatives. We believe in real food and offer many healthy options, including vegetarian and vegan menu items. At Giolitti Deli, we make our own sauces, mozzarella, grilled and roasted vegetables, bread, pizza dough, and desserts, and our sandwiches, salads, pasta, pizza, and entrees are made to order. Owner Mary Giolitti has combined her passion for great food and fine wine to offer Annapolis a true taste of Italy!

Team members who also make the business possible include Manager Kathy Hunter, Manager and Catering Director Cheryl Molesky, Head Baker Porfirio Diaz, Chef Alfredo Escobar, and Deli Manager Noe Merino. To contact us, please visit our contact page or give us a call at 410.266.8600. Also, be sure to keep up with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and our blog!

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