The Collected Comic Strip & Italian Holiday Cookbook
Tinnell – Piskor – Saviuk – Tinnell
From the Author
• "All I wanted to do was write a little romantic comedy about my family cooking fish on Christmas Eve. Little did I know what I'd unleashed - an acclaimed graphic novel, a festival, a movie - and now a blog - dedicated to keeping the traditions of our Italian ancestors alive..."
Recently Mario Scheilzke invited me to review the Feast of the Seven Fishes, and I am grateful I took him up on it!
I frankly had no idea what to expect! At first I thought I would be reviewing a “cook book” but Feast of the Seven Fishes is certainly more than that!
Feast of the Seven Fishes began with the vision of Robert Tinnell who desired to share will Italians and non-Italians what I like to refer as the ‘soul’ of Italian food and culture!
Its graphic novel approach to telling the story is welcome, bringing all the characters to life! I was able to put myself in the story as well as relate to the Italian family dynamics which were inked!
The “Feast” refers to the Italian tradition of eating a family meal on Christmas Eve comprised of multiple seafood dishes up to nine in some instances. For our family we had Smelt, fried Perch or Haddock, Linguine Calamari, “gravy” made with lobster (my Moms favorite)and clams as well as Auntie Toni’s shrimp salad which there was never enough of!
I frankly never knew that the meal actually had a name, all I knew is we ate fish on Christmas Eve, went to Midnight Mass while the Dads stayed home smoked cigarettes and played poker.
Feast of the Seven Fishes characters have shades of Saturday Night Fever, Goodfellas and the Big Night, certainly every Italian family can relate to Grandma’s slap to the back of the head…(with love of course.) I laughed through three pages after reading what the Grandma called Beth when she slept over night at Tony’s Studio!
It was interesting to see the artwork progression from Ed Piskor to the graphic style of Alex Saviuk and how it changed the immerse feel of the story as well.
At the back of the book there is a brief history of the family and town that inspired the story. Most important are the recipes shared to all by Shannon Tinnell so you may begin your own tradition every year passing this wonderful tradition down to future generations.
The recipes are easy to follow and spot on, plus have valuable knowledge and firsthand experience on making each dish a success!
This book reminds its reader’s what’s important in life, our families and family traditions! As time passed our grandparents and parents children grew up, married had their own children and perhaps moved to other states. This distance made us pine for the days of the big basement feasts, memories of stories and relatives and the warmth and unconditional love that the holidays bring! No matter what your ethnicity or family background it is important for all of us to pass down family traditions to future generations.
I highly recommend purchasing this book for your self as well and give as a gift to all your Italian friends or anyone who would want to know how to make a great Fried Smelt!
Now if you excuse me I need to figure out how to get a second kitchen in the basement and where to fit 20 people! Merry Christmas!
- Andrew Selvaggio, Cook-Italian.com