Passover is a beautiful holiday -- the seder is a lovely story, the songs are fun (namely Dayenu!), and all the traditions are pretty great. The food is … interesting? OK, the main dishes are usually OK, and I don’t particularly mind matzah. I really love matzah ball soup, despite the barbaric practice of harvesting them, which must be beyond painful to the male matzahs. But the desserts are pretty awful. I get that you can’t eat leavened bread, I really do. (Another one of Passover’s good points is that it’s pretty much the only time of the year I use the word “leavened,” much less “unleavened,” which are pretty great words.) But why eat baked goods at all then? If we want a dessert with no wheat or leavening ingredients, couldn’t we just eat ice cream? Maybe just a piece of fruit? I fail to see how macaroons are better than these options. I was going to say that I’d actually rather eat a box of sawdust than macaroons, but I suspect that they are actually the same thing. Perhaps there is a valid reason to eat macaroons, but I am not aware of it.
Nontheless, I am not here to talk with you about macaroons. I am here, as the title suggests, to discuss the great mystery known as gefilte fish. (Fun spell-check-fail: a suggestion for “gefilte fish” is “defiled fish,” which sort of sounds about right.)
To the uninitiated, gefilte fish is a disgusting mass of white fish that appears to have been recently and heartily sneezed on. But to the sophisticated Jewish eater, it is … well, yeah, it’s still basically a disgusting mass of white fish that appears to have been recently and heartily sneezed on. When I was young, I thought “gefitle” was an actual type of fish. Like a stream might have bass, trout, carp, what-have-you, and then a “gefilte” could swim by. I grew up in the suburbs and did not know from fishing. Turns out that gefilte is actually a way of preparing a fish, which probably has some sort of significance, but is mainly just gross. It comes in a jar that looks like it should contain pickled animal fetuses.
I have come to believe that the entire Passover Seder (basically a long ceremony you do before the food is served) is designed to make gefilte fish edible. You get so bored and so hungry that by the time the first course is served -- the gefilte course of course -- you’d pretty much eat anything (including a disgusting mass of white fish that appears to have been recently and heartily sneezed on). Oh, and to make things better, sometimes you put carrots and horseradish on there. Does anyone out there actually enjoy it? Have any of the gentiles among you ever been confronted with gefilte fish? Please share your stories, if so. And happy Pesach (yes! I remembered!) to all, whenever you may celebrate it.
(BTW, I did some -- not very much, obviously -- research for this article, and found a site called JewishRecipes.Org, which claims that when making gefilte fish, “the fish is first debunked.” I did not know you had to expose/ridicule the fish’s false notions! But I will be sure to do this. Does the gefilte claim Obama was born in Kenya? I SHALL DEBUNK YOU, FISH. HE WAS DEFINITELY BORN IN HAWAII. WHO ARE YOU, FISH, DONALD TRUMP?? Oh, wait, maybe it’s just more spell-check-fail and it should say “debone.” Anyway...)