There's one nod to tradition that I figured I'd try to make on this Christmas Eve, and that's the Fish Thing, more properly known in the NY Metro Area as The Feast of the Seven Fishes. On my way to work, I stopped at the local grocery store and picked up some of the frutti di mare, specifically four types of fish and three types of molluscs:
The "cooking" facilities on the job are pretty slim- I had access to a knife, a plate, and a microwave. I was somehow able to cook some orzo by nuking several coffee cups of water and continually soaking the orzo in changes of boiling water. Miraculously, I was able to achieve a perfect al dente texture. I then tossed the orzo with some diced red onion, hot peppers grown by a co-worker, sundried tomatoes, garlic, and anchovies. I used this pasta as the bed on which to serve small portions of the tinned seafood:
On the bottom left is a portion of smoked scallops served on a sliced baguette, while a codfish filet sits at the six o'clock position followed by (going counterclockwise) calamari in its ink, octopus in olive oil, fish "steaks" with hot peppers in oil, and fish "steaks" in hot sauce.
The meal came together extremely well for a hastily improvised, no-equipment effort. In some ways, cobbling together this dish was a process similar to the purported origins of pasta alla puttanesca, a dish often hastily assembled from canned ingredients. Cooking is an endeavor in which technique often trumps fancy ingredients- all of the fancy Himalayan pink salt in the world can't make up for ham-fistedness in the kitchen.
Buon Natale, amici!