Matt: Not many things are more inherently part of a culture than its food. The Japanese have the California Roll. The Italians have pizza. The Mexicans have Taco Bell. The Jews are no different, and today’s dish of choice has polarized the Jewish meal discussion for years. Of course, we’re talking about the concoction that is Gefilte Fish.
Jay: Bleugh. All yours, dude. I’ll take oxygen and water over that unholy creation any day of the week. You wanna know how that got started? Somewhere, in some sub-clause of the Torah, there’s a tiny eency weency little song-and-dance about not lettings things go to waste over shabbat. And some enterprising soul, millenia ago, decided that fish was too good to not eat all Shabbat long. So he took the fish, deboned it, GROUND THE BONES UP, wadded the whole thing into some kind of bastardized hamburger patty and sprinkled weird snot goblings on top. You wanna know why we put horseradish on top of gefilte fish? So that we can’t taste the gefilte fish. True story.
Matt: True story: being wasteful is a modern Western phenomenon. It’s costly, lazy, and adds more Jewish guilt when your mother tells you she’s disappointed you didn’t finish your vegetables when there are starving people in Africa. Gefilte Fish is not only the epitome of throwing in everything but the kitchen sink, but it’s tasty. It’s not fried, it’s not loaded with sugar, and those “weird snot goblings” on top are vegetables. And don’t even begin to let me kibbitz on about horseradish, with or without beets the greatest condiment since Gulden’s Spicy Brown.
Jay: I’m not even kidding, man, I have statistical evidence to prove you’re wrong. Yes, I’ve had an aversion to gefilte fish my whole life, so no way did I know how to make it off the top of my head. I did some googling. First I wanted some history:
But that wasn’t a fruitful search. Perhaps, like penicillin, or breathalyzers, it was created by accident:
And still nothing. Enraged, I turned to my last resort. JUSTICE:
The numbers speak for themselves. More people are angry about gefilte’s very existence than care about where it comes from. And come on! Have you ever actually seen a Gefilte Fish? They’re the chicken nuggets of fish product. I’ll say it again: bleugh.
Matt: There’s something to be said about the Jewish appetizer. It’s an enigma of a course that typically appears at any formal Jewish affair. Sure, if it was a non-formal event, you could do the Pigs In Blankets route. But for sit-down meals, you’re severely limited in choices. Chopped Liver? I’m a huge fan, but try getting a picky eater to go with that. The only other option is Gefilte Fish. If you want to market it as chicken nuggets of fish, you’d have a healthier version of fish sticks, which even the picky eater can stomach. Gefilte Fish is more than just an appetizer. It’s a reminder of our history, where we came from. That little shtetl in Europe where our great-great-great grandfathers became prominent Rabbis and our great-great-great grandmothers still filled our ancestors bellies on a few kopeks, a prayer and a little salt for taste. That combination of sweet, salty and spicy conjures up feelings of family and holidays and what it means to be a Jew. As much as you may dislike it today, you can’t argue that it has earned its rightful place at the festive meal.
Jay: FINE. Fine. You got me there. While I find it disgusting and discomforting, I can’t help but admit that it is a Jewish tradition. If this was Kibbitz and Kvetch: Jay Likes Gefilte Fish, that shit would be game over. But I guess if we’re debating the very existence of - or rather, the merit of the existence of the Gefilte monster — I’ll have to concede.
Good taste says no. Tradition says yes. Gefilte Fish: WIN.
Matt: Score this one for a big win for Gefilte Fish. You just made every bubbe proud. Now who’s up for a big spoonful of Gold’s?