I’m not sure how to approach this issue. I don’t mean to overdramatize; however, a major family battle is brewing over — believe it or not — gefilte fish. My family is very traditional and serves gefilte fish at every major Jewish holiday. My mother puts in a full day in the kitchen to prepare it and serves it with immense pride. It was her mother’s recipe and before that her grandmother’s and so on. It is almost sacrosanct.
Here’s the problem: My wife did not grow up eating gefilte fish. She despises it — the smell, the taste, everything about it. And she does not hide her feelings. She refuses to even taste it. Every time it comes up she is sure to let everyone know that she never intends to make it.
Family get-togethers are becoming unpleasant on account of the gefilte fish. Even as I write this, I can’t believe it. Any suggestions on solving this tempest in a fish pot?
Not that I’m fishing for compliments, but I think some solutions are certainly possible. First, time to fish or cut bait. Let’s solve this one fast — after all, there just may be bigger fish to fry in this world of ours. And, frankly, your wife should not have to feel like a fish out of water.
First things first. Keep in mind that the Jewish value of shalom bayit, a home of peace, comes before anything, even gefilte fish. That said, I feel your pain. I was not always a gefilte fan, myself. Your question, though, has ignited a lyrical chord. If the Jewish-born Heinrich Heine, one of the most significant German poets of the 19th century, could write a poem about cholent, then why not a poem about gefilte fish? I believe its time has come!
Ode to Gefilte Fish
On Mother’s table Friday night,
Gefilte fish, it’s quite a sight.
The pot set long before we wake,
Friday morning, as the challahs bake.
Later, as Shabbat candles burn,
With subtle probing, to me they’d turn,
“No fish daughter dear, why heavens not?”
“It’s not my thing — not by a long shot!”
Not till married, that very first year
Did gefilte fish upon my table appear.
I took that very first tentative nibble,
Whoa, this is okay! Not a crumb of a quibble!
From then, till now, I chop and I mix,
Boil and bake and lovingly fix.
Ode to gefilte
It’s quite the fish.
Oh, dear gefilte
You’re quite the dish.
Have you been brave? Taken a morsel?
The jar with the gel? – Hmmm, quite awful!
But homemade? With carp and maybe some pike?
I’m not first to say, “What’s not to like?”
Way over the pond they fry it up —
Quite the feat for a Britishe kup!
Go get a loaf, you can shake it and bake it
Throw on some red sauce — no need to fake it.
This GF squabble is so, so sad,
Especially since it’s become quite the fad!
On websites order yours organic,
Or go for the local, no need to panic.
This dish has got some history —
Plus passion and some mystery.
The French make quenelles and others do croquette,
For we Jews it’s not that at all, you can bet.
Invented to stop us from picking out bones
On Shabbat that’s a no-no in all of our zones.
There are recipes galore from salty to sweet,
The horseradish made red with some added beet
Tops it all off with a pop and a punch.
If any is left, serve it for brunch!
So, give it a shot! That’s my advice.
Go home and cook it, then take a slice.
You may be surprised, like I was back then,
You’ll thank me, I tell you — amen and amen!
GF on the dish is part of our story.
So hurry it up and share in the glory!