December 2008

Feast of the Seven Fishes (Book Review)

Feast of the Seven Fishes

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,



Italian Meatballs (Recipe)


There are many recipes for Meatballs on the internet which ones do I make?  I mean... I want real Italian Meatballs! know when you ask your Mother on how to make the Italian Meatballs that you crave.  The ones that were fried in lard then simmered in "gravy" ALL DAY, well here is the recipe as it was given to us!

  To this day I  make everything from memory, taste, feel and with visual amounts.  Now I see who I get it from! I'm sure I will get many questions on how much and what to do etc.  email me, I will gladly answer them!

Continue reading "Italian Meatballs (Recipe)" »

Lemon Iced Taralli (Recipe)





Lemon Iced Taralli , Here is my simple recipe for a Lemon Iced Taralli with the light flavor of orange with the fresh taste of lemon!

  I am presenting this recipe to you as it was handed down to my Mother Anna Marie! Roll out tie into knots and bake and finish with lemon icing and decorative sprinkles!

Lemon Iced Taralli (Recipe) print version


2 1/2 lbs all purpose flour

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup orange juice

3 tablespoons baking powder

9 eggs

2 sticks or 1/2 lb unsalted Butter

1 1/2 tsp Vanilla


Cream sugar and butter, add eggs one at a time, vanilla, combine baking powder and flour.

Cut off pieces of dough the size of a walnut.

Roll each piece of dough shape either as a knot or any shape you like

Bake in oven 350 for 10-12 minutes


For the Icing:
1 cup confectionery sugar
juice of 2 lemons
zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon of water

Biscotti Di Vino (Recipe)

Biscotti di Vino

Biscotti Di Vino, Red wine or white wine may be used. 

Enjoy dipping in your favorite wine!  Here is another recipe with more step by step images!


Biscotti Di Vino print version


4 1/2 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder double-acting
1 cup Sunflower or vegetable oil
1 cup Full-bodied red wine


In a large bowl combine well 4 cups of the flour, the sugar, the salt, and the baking powder and make a well in the center.

Pour in the oil and the wine, combine the mixture, incorporating the flour mixture gradually, until it forms a soft dough, and knead in enough of the remaining 1/2 cup flour to keep the dough from sticking.

Divide the dough into 40 pieces, roll each piece into a 5-inch rope, and form the ropes into rings, pinching the ends together firmly.

Bake the rings 2 inches apart on baking sheets the upper third of a preheated 350F oven for 20 minutes.

Reduce the heat to 300F and bake the biscuits for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they are golden. Let the biscuits cool on racks and store them in airtight containers. Makes 40 biscotti.