L'Chaim

Jewish World Review March 30, 2001/ 6 Nissan, 5761

Something fishy?


By Michael A. Glueck, MD



Mad-gefilte-fish-disease leads to gefilte-gate conspiracy


http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- A DIRE crisis looms and lurks across the land, oceans, rivers and seas for Passover. The gefilte fish are not biting this year -- at least not the fishing lines. Fisherman are complaining all over from the northeast, along the Great Lakes and to the inland streams.

Sven Peterson, a Minnesota fisherman notes, "I have never seen anything like this in my 40 years of fishing. The gefilte fish are not biting and there also seems to be a severe shortage. It's almost like some wildly out-of-control virus is making them mad so they bite and eat each other. My best friend, Lute Jorgenson, had his hand bitten while pulling a few out of the water. And this is normally the best time of year for gefilte fisherman."

Fortunately the mad fish "virus" is not harmful to humans but knocks out the normally rich supply of gefilte in this hemisphere.

Rabbis in congregations nationally and worldwide are very upset. Rabbi Marcus Prince of Yeshiva Dagim, says "The eating of gefilte fish is a time honored tradition at the passover table for millions of Jews all over the world. Passover symbolizes the oil in the Temple burning eight days instead of one. Normally I have eight helpings to celebrate the blessing of each day."

The Manishewitz Company, of Jersey City, New Jersey, is extremely upset they will not be able to meet this year's holiday demands. A company spokeswoman, Rose Woods, told me that the company executives are going to temple six nights a week to pray. "I've never seen such religious people," she said. "We've been in business since 1888 and never had a problem. In those 113 years we never missed a delivery." You expect 'qvality service' from Manischewitz!"

In Newark, New Jersey, the spokespersons for Mrs. Adler Gefilte Fish Jars told a similar fish story. "You know, you can go into a Jersey supermarket and find an entire shelf of CD Haggadahs that narrate a full seder with 35 songs and blessings. But you can't find one good gefilte fish!"

The story gets even more macabre. There are scattered reports from some of the aggressive internet news sources and tabloids, those who actually do investigative journalism, that some persons and secret organizations are hoarding gefilte fish and selling them at black-market prices. People in Miami-Dade and some other Florida counties are allegedly paying up to $79.95 a pound for the scarce delicacy. Said Dr. Glen Bershad of Miami Beach, "We were caught unaware during election 2000 and we don't want to bring shame upon ourselves again. We'll pay whaever it takes. How many good seders does a man get in his life? A seder without gefilte fish is like a Chinese meal without a shrimp egg foo young!"

Gefilte shortage is having all sorts of unanticipated consequences according to Neil Goldberger -- a New York City restaurateur. "It is hitting all the ethnic eating places. You can't even find a gefilte egg roll, gefilte sushi or handroll, gefilte marinara spaghetti sauce, broiled rock gefilte tails, Tandori gefilte, gefilte hummus or a gefilte fish taco at Wahoos Fish Taco. This is hurting everyone. Even Beluga gefilte caviar is unavailable."

It only gets worse. Some persons are now attempting to simulate gefilte fish just like mock crab or lobster. Although the evidence is still scanty there are rumors from "unnamed sources" that some supermarkets, butchers and chefs are using varying concoctions of carp, mullet, white fish, pike, cod, bluefish, shad, buffalo fish, and mackeral to simulate the real thing. They grind the substitute fish, boil it, and then mix it into a firm substance and form it in a mold. Other ingredients include egg whites, matzoh meal, bay seasoning, carrots, onions, parsley, celery and ground pepper. The mock gefilte fish is placed in clear glass jars with broth or jelly and sold as the real stuff. Going price is $49.95 per pound or much less than the authentic gefilte.

Although not substantiated, there is a buzz in Washington, D.C., that a couple of the Bill and Hillary relatives offered then President Clinton 100 pounds of the right stuff in exchange for a pardon. Allegedly Clinton refused because he does not consider the fish a fast food.

It is so bad that some faithful worshippers in New York, Cleveland, Chicago, Los Angeles and Palm Beach are even referring to the pirating, hoarding and simulating of gefilte fish as the "Great Gefilte Gate" or "Gator Gefilte Gate".

But there is some light at the end of the river. We still have time left until Passover, April 7. Perhaps by then the miracles of modern medicine will have found a cure for the "Mad-Mashugina-Gefilte-Fish-Disease". Researchers at The Harvard School of Public Health are working on a new designer antibiotic with a long unpronounceable chemical name. Personally, if it works, I'd like to call it by a simple generic name -- something like gefiltamycin.

In the meantime I recommend using the mock gefilte fish for the holidays. A "source that asked to remain anonymous," says it tastes almost as good as the real thing, particularly if you top it off with that purple horseradish!

You don't have to be Jewish to love gefilte fish. An inspiring Passover.


Michael Arnold Glueck, MD, is a Harvard trained diagnostic radiologist. He writes extensively on healthcare, legal, disability, and mental health reform issues and when hungry writes on food. He loves chicken soup, matzoh balls, rare hamburgers with grilled onions, and a good fillet of gefilte fish! Usually he writes with Dr. Robert J. Cihak, who was not feeling well this week because he couldn't find a good corned gefilte sandwich. Comments by clicking here.

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© 2001, Michael A. Glueck