A Fishy Problem
Astrid Silberman attempts to recreate her family recipe for Gefilte fish.
ASTRID SILBERMAN: We need "trucha, merluza, lenguado". I was about to get the dictionary when it struck me. This very simple process wouldn't be so simple after all.
The first time that I had to prepare gefilte fish, my mum was visiting. We had arrived in Melbourne from Buenos Aires 2 and 1/2 years before, looking for a better place to raise our two daughters. I started to think, what was tradition-- sticking to the exact family's recipe or using the same concept to invent our new family recipe? Anyway, I doubted that the fish that swam Rio de la Plata waters would be swimming around the Pacific or any other water around Melbourne.
I decided to interpret tradition. My mum and I'd made a list of the type of fish that we used in Buenos Aires-- something fatty; a couple of nice taste; and something for color, preferably pink. With that list, I went to the fish shop. We made a wonderful gefilte fish out here. It tasted like the start of new traditions.
The following year, my mum couldn't come for the High Holy Days, and my sister was starting to freak out. We are not going to have gefilte fish. For us, not eating gefilte fish at Jewish New Year was like Christmas without a tree. I answered calmly that I knew exactly what we needed, and we would do it.
I ordered the fish from the same shop. Everything was ready. It was the beginning of a new era. We could do our own gefilte fish. I had the complete process in my head. Every single step, I felt confident.
I opened the package and saw the mountain of fillets of different colours. Something was wrong. My sister appeared over my right shoulder. Why didn't I mince it?