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My online source said that revelers could choose seven fishes, ten fishes or thirteen fishes, all of which have spiritual significance. Well, we knew our limits. Thirteen fishes might be the ultimate in spirit-inspired gluttony, but seven seemed a little more do-able for our debut.

            We divvied up the fish dishes, so each one could get particular care. The menu that evolved was amazing. Seldom have I been compared to Martha Stewart; never have I been described as sophisticated; and well into my second half-century, rarely have I felt like a real grownup. This was one of those occasions.

            Emma, a college coed, set the standard high by baking her Nana’s famous triple-layer chocolate cake the day before our dinner. Michael and I scoured online recipes and did trial runs for our contributions to the dinner. I made a Caesar salad by pulverizing anchovies in a big wooden bowl with garlic, lemon, Dijon, red wine vinegar, olive oil and coddled egg yolk. That was followed by rich New England clam chowder (which broke even the Italians’ loose definition of fasting by incorporating a little bacon). Well, what the heck. Michael continued the offense by wrapping bacon around sweet-spicy marinated shrimp headed for the grill. He also did the final fish of the dinner, seasoned salmon grilled on a cedar plank.

            MJ cooked her trademark crab cakes, flawlessly sautéed some fresh scallops, and adapted a recipe from Chef David at Maxwell’s for creamy orzo with lobster. We ended the meal with Emma’s super-chocolaty cake. Oh so classy.

            The Vosburgs’ dinner table was elegantly adorned with candles and garlands. Between courses, we took time to savor the tastes, remove the dirty dishes, re-pour the wine, prepare the next dish, drink a toast and settle our bellies. The tighter our waistbands, the more we dedicated ourselves to our shared mission. Seven fishes or bust.

            By the end of the sumptuous repast, we’d used almost every dish in the house.  With each course, I’d felt increasingly reluctant to get out of my chair to help clear the table. Seafood might not be like turkey, which apparently prompts some sort of lethargy-inducing chemistry in the human body. But with their added butter, cream and bacon, our seven fishes inspired an overwhelming slide toward sloth. I didn’t just feel grown-up, I felt grown-out.

            Plans are already brewing for next year’s fishy encore. Perhaps we’ll go a little lighter on the bacon. Or not.

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