Keeping those holiday traditions is important

Published 7:12 pm Friday, December 16, 2011

The time was back in the 1940s, when we went to grandma’s house for traditional Christmas Eve dinner, it was pasta as usual.

Except, this pasta my Italian grandmother made, was in the strictest native tradition — pasta with anchovy sauce.


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As a 6- or 7-year-old, it was a sauce only a native Italian could love, even though I loved grandma’s usual and traditional Italian pasta dishes.

One’s tastes change over the years. Growing up in a Catholic household, my mother always insisted on fish for Friday meals.

Yuck! Hungry or not, it was mealtime rebellion.

To this day, fish dishes I cannot handle. Passing supermarket fish counters usually turns my insides as one gets a whiff of those odors. I am told, that if you can smell the fish, it isn’t fresh. So why do those odors permeate the fish counter?


As I said, tastes change. While my nose can’t stand fish, or tongue either, I have developed a taste for anchovies.

Yuck yourself.

There they are, piled high upon the goat cheese in a Greek salad. Yum.

Well, so much for the tradition of anchovies in pasta sauce on Christmas Eve. Still can’t handle it.

So what is your tradition? We all have our favorite dishes during the holidays.

We have one at our house too, been doing it for about 25 years now.

Peanut soup.

Going to a small newspaper conference in Richmond, Va., about the mid 1970s, we all went to an historic downtown hotel for a pre-planned dinner. It was said that the grand staircase in this hotel was used in Gone With The Wind, when Rhett carried Scarlett up the steps to their bedroom. Don’t know if it’s true or not, but the place certainly looked, smelled and felt historic.

Anyway, the entrée to the meal was peanut soup, a true Southern traditional delicacy, I was told, downed hot or cold.

It was really unique.

So, coming home, I researched some recipes in old-time Southern cookbooks, and found a simple recipe. We made it, and everybody liked it, so somehow it became a Christmas Eve staple. It’s just not Christmas Eve without peanut soup at our house, and at our now adult kids’ house too.

Strange how things come about.

Maybe we all should compose a cookbook on weird and strange holiday personal holiday dishes.

So what’s on your holiday table that’s weird too?

A reminder — one week from tomorrow is Christmas Eve. Be sure to get in your grocery shopping early. Get those strange dishes ready for your traditions.

May the season bring you joy and happiness as you gather with family and friends.

Incidently … peanut soup with anchovies does not blend well.

Jim Smith writes a weekly column for The Post-Searchlight. You can email him at: