More than a few last-minute shoppers have come up short. What Dorene Centioli-McTigue's Italian grandparents failed to find their first year in Seattle was the essential fish for their annual Christmas Eve pasta.
What they did encounter was plenty of Dungeness crab, so they created a new tradition with the crustacean: two-part cracked crab and pasta in a homemade tomato sauce redolent of garlic and basil. That was in 1890. The dish doesn't miss a December 24 appearance on the Centioli table to this day.
The celebration starts with flutes of Moscato d'Asti ― a fruity, slightly sweet, spritzy wine (Italians drink it on Christmas morning too) ― with home-canned vegetable antipasti and garlic-and anchovy-laced bagna cauda for dipping raw veggies and crusty bread. With the delicious mess of crab and pasta, the Centiolis serve spinach or broccolini sautéed with garlic and pour a Brunello or a Cabernet. Gelato and scalidi ― Italian fried cookies ― follow.
When it comes to food for feasts, you don't exactly have to make do on the West Coast.