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The Feast of the Seven Fishes Draws on Local Wholesale Seafood for a New Bay Area Christmas Tradition

Posted by on Monday, December 5th, 2016

Dungeness crab is local, sustainable, and in season during the holidays, making it a perfect choice for customers looking for a centerpiece for their Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve. Image source: Flickr CC user Becky Berry

One of my favorite holiday traditions happens to be Italian–it’s the Feast of the Seven Fishes, usually eaten on Christmas Eve, and it is the perfect way for us in the seafood industry to celebrate our professional passions with our families. That’s especially true here in the Bay Area, where we have such a wide variety of delicious, sustainable, local seafood that is perfect for this festive celebration. For that reason, I think the Feast of the Seven Fishes should be not only an Italian tradition, but also a Bay Area tradition–a way for seafood lovers to try new recipes and indulge in seasonal favorites like Dungeness crab. So what is the Feast of the Seven Fishes, and how can Bay Area seafood vendors make it part of Bay Area tradition?

One of my favorite holiday traditions happens to be Italian–it’s the Feast of the Seven Fishes, usually eaten on Christmas Eve, and it is the perfect way for us in the seafood industry to celebrate our professional passions with our families. That’s especially true here in the Bay Area, where we have such a wide variety of delicious, sustainable, local seafood that is perfect for this festive celebration. For that reason, I think the Feast of the Seven Fishes should be not only an Italian tradition, but also a Bay Area tradition–a way for seafood lovers to try new recipes and indulge in seasonal favorites like Dungeness crab. So what is the Feast of the Seven Fishes, and how can Bay Area seafood vendors make it part of Bay Area tradition?

A Christmas Eve Feast

This traditional meal, consisting of anywhere from seven to thirteen different courses, is a hallmark of Italian coastal cuisine at Christmastime. The number of courses varies, and has a variety of religious meanings, but ultimately the format is flexible. Some families go all-out with a 13-course seafood extravaganza, and some opt for a simpler seafood-focused dish, such as a pasta with seafood. But generally, offering several different types of seafood is important–it is the Feast of the Seven Fishes, after all.

Why Does It Make a Good Tradition for the Bay Area?

We deal with fish every day, but it’s important to remember that seafood is still seen as a luxury item to some–for many Italian-American customers, as well as those with other heritages, Christmas is the perfect time to indulge in an extravagant, all-seafood feast. Here in the Bay Area, there are other reasons this tradition fits in so well:

  • Seafood is low calorie and full of important vitamins and minerals, making it perfect for the Bay Area’s numerous health- and fitness-focused customers.
  • Customers in our area lead busy lives, and often holidays and very special occasions are the only times the effort required to pull off a large feast like this is warranted. This is a great chance for customers to experiment and pull out all the stops.

Encouraging Holiday Seafood Consumption in Retail Customers

There are numerous ways you can educate and promote the feast to your customers. Many customers may not know about this tradition, but once they do, they’ll be excited to try it out in their own home.

  • Educate customers with flyers or a poster. Explain what the feast is (feel free to borrow our explanation from the beginning of this post!) and list what seafood you offer that might be a good fit.
  • Offer a package deal on several raw fish. For example, if a customer buys three different types of fish, offer a fourth type at a discount, or even for free. You might offer a complimentary pound of clams or a few raw oysters when a customer buys crab, salmon, squid, or cod from you as well.
  • Offer your favorite festive holiday recipe for a fish you sell. You can do this in a printed flyer, email blast, complimentary recipe card, or even on your social media page.
  • When talking to customers, share what you know about the Feast of the Seven Fishes tradition, and suggest either a multi-course, all-seafood feast, or just a single, celebratory seafood dish that features a local treat like Dungeness crab.
  • Offer a mix of prepared or semi-prepared seafood as well as raw, along with suitable accompaniments for those who would like to serve multiple courses but wish to save on time. Have plenty of fresh steamed Dungeness, Alaskan king, and snow crab available, both cracked and cleaned, as well as fresh picked crab meat for those looking to make crab cakes or crab pasta. You could also offer pre-made cioppino, the beloved San Francisco favorite, featuring fresh, local shellfish and fish.

The Feast of the Seven Fishes is the perfect time to promote local Bay Area seafood to your customers. If you make it easy for them, they will embrace this tradition, whether they are Italian or not! Let us know how we can help–Pucci Foods has a wide variety of the freshest, most sustainable wholesale seafood, including local favorites.