Passover Mystery: Will there be gefulte fish?

Saturday, Apr. 3, 1943

It is axiomatic that gefulte fish be on the menu for the Passover seder. Never mind that it is an inheritance from the centuries Jews lived in the Baltic area with its wealth of cold water fish and that it has no culinary connection with the Middle East, let alone Egypt. So the latest letter to Lois from her father reveals how wartime was affecting holiday menus as Passover and Easter approached. First, he offered encouragement about making acceptable gefulte fish: “The bull’s eye in fish taste here is so big that you couldn’t possibly miss with both hands tied behind your back.” The problem, he explained, was getting the ingredients. In the Midwest, my mother had encountered linguistic barriers – the names she knew for the fish she needed were not the ones used here. Back East, it was different: “The whole winter we did not enjoy [gefulte fish] even once. We did not think it worthwhile to run downtown for the fish. I could not spare the time and mother is not used to pick them out. The fish man used to bring them around. But with gas restrictions, he quit.”




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