"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Taster's Cherce: Why on this Night Are We Served the Most Heinous Thing Known to Man?

Those in the know understand that I’m talking about gefilte fish. And no, I’m not even going to post an image of the brownish grey lump of mashed whatever, cause I’ve got a heart. What I love is how gefilte fish  is traditionally served with a piece of carrot on top, as if that would salvage it–never mind the gelatin (shudder).

As kids, my brother, sister and I were expected to eat what was on our plate. Jewish side of the family, Catholic side of the family: same rules. At home, but especially when we were guests. I became a master at putting a spoonful of creamed spinach, or in Belgium, steak tartare, in my mouth and then gulping it down with a big swig of water. Fun, it was not.

There were two things that we were spared, however: lobster and gefilte fish. The former because it was too expensive and too good to be wasted on the likes of us who didn’t care for it, and the latter because, well, I guess because our elders had compassion.

But hey, that’s just me. I know some perfectly reasonable people who love gefilte fish. As for me, bring on the matzoh ball soup.

Categories:  Bronx Banter  Taster's Cherce

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1 Diane Firstman   ~  Mar 29, 2010 12:26 pm


Gefilte fish may be an acquired taste.
Lobster, well that's merely "traif".

I feel the same way about borscht that you feel about gefilte fish.

2 RIYank   ~  Mar 29, 2010 12:52 pm

Borscht: inoffensive, but I don't like it.

Matzoh ball soup: happy to have it, wouldn't miss it if I could never have it again.

Gefilte fish: hideous on the plate, but actually it tastes pretty good. It's really hard to get over that visual impression, though.

Lobster: one of life's great gustatory experiences. Like September tomatoes, lobster is so good in its plainest form that pretty nearly every kitchen treatment of it makes it worse.

3 Shaun P.   ~  Mar 29, 2010 1:12 pm

[2] Lobster is absolutely wonderful, and you haven't lived if you haven't had lobster. Alex, please please please tell me you've had (a good) lobster at least once in your life. If not, you have an open invitation, my treat; I know a couple of great seafood restaurants in Gloucester if you're ever in the neighborhood.

What are you feeling on lobster rolls, RIYank? Are they outside the "pretty nearly every kitchen treatment" you mention?

4 Alex Belth   ~  Mar 29, 2010 1:21 pm

I have tried good lobster and like it but it's lost on me. Not a huge fan.

5 RIYank   ~  Mar 29, 2010 1:24 pm

[3] Hm, I feel that lobster rolls are a fun way to eat lobster: much easier than sitting down with melted butter and Implements of Arthropod Destruction, but they are indeed worse.


Best with champagne -- but I have to admit that this describes a lot of foods, in my book. My wife says Riesling.

6 RIYank   ~  Mar 29, 2010 1:25 pm

[4] What about lobster bisque?
(I'm just wondering whether it's the overall eating aethetics that bothers you about lobster.)

7 Diane Firstman   ~  Mar 29, 2010 1:31 pm

FWIW, Fresh Direct offers lobster tails for your broiling/boiling pleasure, and during peak season, they'll even prepare a whole one for you to serve any which way you like.

They also offer Lobster Pot Pies ... which sounds a bit sacreligious, if you'll pardon the pun.

8 YankeeAbby   ~  Mar 29, 2010 1:37 pm

Every Passover, I'd have to go through the list with my mother of food items that I didn't like...gefilte fish was at the top of the list. My parents eat it with a small dollop of red horseradish on top. YUCK!!! Also, before dinner, mom would put out the tray of matzohs with what seemed like a Sam's Club sized tub of chopped liver (double YUCK!) for the family to snack on. Dad & my sister were all over that!

But thank you Alex, for that beautiful bowl of matzoh ball soup! Now THAT is some of mom's cooking that I couldn't wait for! :::sigh::: I sometimes hate that my parents are down in Florida. I sure miss mom's cooking!

9 RIYank   ~  Mar 29, 2010 1:39 pm

[7] "Sacrilegious"

(A rare opportunity to correct Diane on orthography!)

10 Diane Firstman   ~  Mar 29, 2010 1:45 pm


(hangs my head in shame ... snags some chopped liver on matzoh while no one is looking)

11 thelarmis   ~  Mar 29, 2010 1:45 pm

i don't think anyone here would call me a "perfectly reasonable person" when it comes to food, but...

i LOVE matzoh ball soup! any chicken soup, really. my grandma made the best homemade canadelech (sp.?)

[1] my grandma also used to have "traif" and get this - "non-traif" in her house! : )

i never tasted gefilte fish til i was an adult. (shocker, i know.) my ex-g/f used to go north w/ me for seder every year. (she's a beautiful blonde irish-italian from worcestor). somehow, that little waif ate everything. and a lot of it. i think she forced me to try gefilte fish. believe it or not, i actually liked it! yup, true story! (seriously, RI!) i even "stocked" it at my place for a little while. at this point, it's prolly been several years since i had it, but i would have try it again sometime...

when i saw this post, i figured it would be for the horse radish...

lobster - i would never try that in a thousand lifetimes. i really don't like fish to begin with. i'll never forget my grandpa eating lobster soooo many times we went out. the plastic bib they gave him, the mess it made. he always looked like he was in heaven though. now, he really is. i'd rather him be here eating lobster...

this is the first year in awhile that i wont' be in NY w/ my fam for seder. now that my grandpa is gone, it's just not as meaningful for me. i'll be teaching a xylophone lesson and practicing. unfortunately, i won't be eating matzoh ball soup...

12 thelarmis   ~  Mar 29, 2010 1:47 pm

[9] ugh. please don't correct all the errors in my post. there are too many! : /

13 Shaun P.   ~  Mar 29, 2010 1:47 pm

[5] I've had horrible lobster rolls (too much mayo, not enough lobster, bad bread/roll, badly prepared lobster) and amazing lobster rolls (indescribably good).

In my experience, it used to be that the way to tell between two was price (the more expensive, the more lobster you got and the better it tasted) but that's not true anymore. If its a place that I know has a good lobster roll, I'm a sucker for them.

I also don't mind breaking out the Implements of Arthropod Destruction when needed. Though I prefer lobster with a wheat beer, myself.

14 RIYank   ~  Mar 29, 2010 1:58 pm

[11] I almost fainted when I read the part where you liked gefilte fish, but then you restored my faith by saying you'd never eat lobster.

15 Diane Firstman   ~  Mar 29, 2010 2:02 pm

this sounds like a great topic for an "instant poll" :-)

16 ms october   ~  Mar 29, 2010 2:04 pm

[14] i think he only likes gefilte fish because a blond babe made him try it :}

i have to say that gefilte fish does not look good to me.
i haven't had good experiences with lobster - so i can't say it is something i like. and i love fish and shellfish - just not lobster.

17 thelarmis   ~  Mar 29, 2010 2:08 pm

[14] my typos were do to me leaning to the left today... c'mon, you couldn't have really expected that i'd ever have tried lobster?! i mean, that's a HUGE leap!!!

[16] well, i mean, we dated for like 9 years... i think she cooked a shellfish dish one night. i don't remember. she loved fish and was tired of always having chicken with me. i didn't love it, but it wasn't bad and i ate the whole thing. left no orts! : )

18 thelarmis   ~  Mar 29, 2010 2:11 pm

btw, to those participating - i hope you have wonderful seder's tonight/tomorrow and enjoy the family time! : )

19 Bluenatic   ~  Mar 29, 2010 3:13 pm

The difference between jarred gefilte fish of the gelatinous variety and fresh gefilte fish is the difference between night and day. The jarred stuff is truly disgusting and should never be served a live human. But the fresh stuff is really good. I highly recommend the fresh stuff from Russ & Daughters on E. Houston.

20 Yankee Mama   ~  Mar 29, 2010 3:24 pm

I'm the one person coming down on the side of gefilte fish, lobster and matzoh ball soup. And I agree with [19], homemade is the only way to eat geilfte fish, although I confess that the smell (stench) of my mother making them made me apoplectic. Yuck!

I've eaten only fruit today as I'm preparing the vessel for the onslaught of the artery hardening meat fest and intestine blocking matzoh products..

Wish me luck

21 boslaw   ~  Mar 29, 2010 3:31 pm

Shaun P - you in Gloucester (Glosta! as they say locally)? I just moved after living in Gloucester for about 8 yrs. Great lobster off the docks in Gloucester can't be beat. I think I'm going to get a recreational lobster license this year & pick some up on the cheap.

22 Shaun P.   ~  Mar 29, 2010 5:22 pm

[21] Nope, I live much closer to the RI border than the NH border. But I work up that way, and have ventured to Gloucester for lunch a couple of times. I've spent a few weekends there, and we always ate well.

Sentimentally speaking though, I once worked across the street, more or less, from the famous (or infamous, YMMV) No Name restaurant. Gosh I miss being a 5 minute walk from that place, especially during Lent.

23 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Mar 29, 2010 9:32 pm

Great band in my college called "Gefilte Fish".. but liked them fourth best after "C-Side Motif" and "St. Booty" and of course, "The Bandicoots"...

For those taking part, have a good holiday. Thankfulkly the Israeli falafel dude around the corner is not very religious, so he'll be open today to provide yet another perfect lunch for me!

thelarmis, I finally got over my fear of grilled eel and gave it a try...it didn't take...

24 Yankee Mama   ~  Mar 29, 2010 11:46 pm

Just have to say that I had the worst gefilte fish ever. Gelatinous goo had a life of its own.

25 boslaw   ~  Mar 30, 2010 12:13 am

Lobsta Land & Lat42 in Gloucester are both top notch.

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