Sunday, March 14, 2010



I simply do not know what happened to this year. When Channukah arrived I wasn't ready for it. When Purim arrived I wasn't ready for that, either. And now - two weeks from tomorrow Pesach will arrive.

It seems to me as if I just wrote about getting ready for Pesach - was it really almost a year ago? Although last year I didn't do the Seder at home - I celebrated with friends in Ramat HaSharon. This year, however, the Seder is back at my house. As I say each time Pesach arrives - how will I ever get everything ready on time? (To tell the truth - I say the same thing on Thanksgiving and Rosh HaShana.)

Anyway - I'm now at the point where even my lists have lists. What to cook - what to buy - how will I organize the menu this year. And as an added little goody - I'm also having people in for dinner on the Friday after the Seder. That's two big dinner parties in the same week - with the addition of having to do "special" foods for the Seder.

One year my friend, Devora, and I decided to get creative for Pesach. No gefilte fish for us - we'd do poached salmon. No chicken soup with kneidlach (matzoh balls) - we'd do some kind of a thick creamy soup. When her husband overheard us planning the new "modern" Seder he was appalled - what, no traditional foods? No gefilte fish? No kneidlach? And so that idea was shelved and we went back to our old traditional Seder - which everyone adored and which I will do again this year - and as I do almost every year.

I haven't finalized the menu yet for the two dinners but you can be sure the Seder will include the traditional hard boiled eggs, chicken soup and kneidlach, gefilte fish, chopped liver and the main course - whenever I make up my mind what the main course will be. All homemade - of course - and all very Ashkenazi traditional.

So you can imagine just how appalled I was when I got an email from my niece asking for my advice on making gefilte fish from salmon. SALMON??? You don't make gefilte fish from salmon. You make gravlax, you smoke it, you poach it, you bake it, you broil it - but you do not make traditional Jewish gefilte fish from salmon.

But - it's possible that I can be wrong. So I did an informal survey - and there was not one person who thought that the idea of salmon gefilte fish was a good idea. And my friends are mostly foodies - most of whom will try anything and every thing edible, at least once. Salmon gefilte fish? A big thumbs down.

In the States we have different fish than we have here. In New York I made the fish from buffle (do not even ask me what that is, I have no idea - it's just buffle), white fish and pike. Here I use carpion (carp) and either cassif (sliver carp) or bouri (grey mullet) - whatever is available. But never ever salmon.

Gefilte fish was invented, if you will, to stretch one fish to feed many people. By removing the fish from the bones and grinding it with "fillers" - onions, matzoh meal, eggs, carrots, almonds, chopped hard boiled eggs - indeed, any and/or all of the aforementioned - one fish can feed many people.
By the way - "we", meaning Russian Jews, don't use the almonds - that's a particularly German addition.

So - on I go now. Have to make more lists, do some marketing, do some pre-preparing - and hope I am all ready for the Seder. Will let you know how it goes.

Pesach Sameach - a Happy Pesach to you all.

Yalla, Bye.

Comments: in one Jerusalem neighborhood, salmon gefilte fish is VERY POPULAR AND VERY DELICIOUS. The local butcher carries it in frozen kilo pkgs...for one to boil w/onions & veggies & is sooo good...much healthier but of course not quite as traditional...but hey...that's how traditions ones eventually become old ones. Pesach Sameach.
Live and learn I always say - this is absolutely a new one on me. Which Jerusalem neighborhood? Which butcher?

No matter what you eat - a Happy and Healthy Pesach to you all.
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