Nurit Gil

Oy Vey

Photo by Caroline Attwood on Unsplash

Have you washed your hands? So apron and cap. Separate the grinder. Okay, it may be the food processor. Do you know how it works? I am not sure, those buttons… In my good old days it was the crank. Grind and exercise the arms. Three pounds of fish. To be tasty, carp, sole, mullet and hake. Are they fresh?

Your great-grandmother kept the fishes swimming in her bathtub until Yom-tev. There was no such thing as people being horrified by lamb turning into carré. Filet au poivre is ox, nugget, chicken and salmon, fish that swam thousands of miles against the current to spawn. It’s insane how people nowadays want to believe that there is a hydroponic schnitzel farming. That’s it, let it grind. But don’t let it turn into a paste. Salt and pepper. Try it. So what ‘is it raw’? Don’t you love oriental foods? A drizzle of olive oil. This is food from your ancestors, meidale. Mix the six onions in this electric contraption.

That’s it. Now roll up your sleeves. No disgusted face. Mix the six eggs, three quarters cup of cold water and a cup of matzah flour. Yes, it has gluten, so what? I ate schmaltz for breakfast and here I am, a bubbe teaching her granddaughter how to make guefilte fish.

Stir with your hands as I separate the fish carcass for the broth where celery, onions and carrots are already boiling. It is always important to take the eyes off the fish head. Hey, what pale color is that? Go get some fresh air to stop with this tsuris while I put the mix in the fridge for half an hour. You might be smelling fish until the second weekend of November, but that’s perfume of yiddish meidale, my love. It is a success. The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. No, let it, we do the dishes in the end. I take us about two and a half hours with sponge and detergent, but we will percolate some coffee and catch up. Don’t roll your eyes, oy vey.

And now it is. The broth is just right. Mold the balls always wetting your hands in cold water, not to stick. Let them boil for a while. Look at these little balls, a delicacy of our people. Do not forget that to the strained broth we will add unflavored gelatin for the best garnish of the guefilte fish. Besides chrein, of course. Smell centuries of tradition, sheine meidale. Your ancestors, who migrated from extremely poor eastern Europe, lived with potatoes, herring, onions and rye bread. Fresh fish was a luxury reserved only for Saturdays, and mixing it with onions, spices, flour and eggs was the way families found to make it yield. Each mishpocheh has its own preparation secret or special touch, but for Ashkenazi Jews, no food is more Jewish than the guefilte fish, baleboste.

Tired already? For someone who spends twelve hours a day locked in an office in front of a computer, you have very low energy. Take it. A glass of vodka. Don’t tell anyone, but you will need it. Smell the chicken liver. Are you ready for the mish mash? Today is Rosh Hashanah, sheine meidale. There are still eleven dishes left for no one to starve at that table.

About the Author
Nurit Masijah Gil is a Brazilian-Israeli writer with nearly 100 chronicles published in Portuguese in both countries. In 2014, she launched her book titled "Little Ms. Perfect," in which she tells about her tragicomic wife-and-mom life. In 2017, she moved to Israel with her family. In 2019, she changed her busy suburban life as a content writer at a startup company, in Israel's central region, for a peaceful life at her own oasis at the Arava desert -- a 1,000-member ishuv -- where she has crowned her aliyah.
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