Gefilte Fish Heads the Year


Coming up on our holiday table, following the appetizers, is the most famous of all traditional Jewish dishes, Gefilte Fish.

How do you recognize a Jewish fish? It swims with a carrot in its mouth. I think this joke is older than the gefilte fish itself.  In truth, even though eating fish on Erev Shabbos  (Friday night) and holidays is an ancient custom that had been developed for several reasons, the actual gefilte (stuffed) fish has not swam into our field of vision, biting a carrot, until about 18th century.


In the dessert, the Jews complain about “fish for the asking” they had eaten in Egypt. Most probably, according to ancient sources, they had carp, pike, and mullet. Stuffed fish, the predecessor of gefilte fish, is mentioned in several books of Jewish customs. One of the reasons is the prohibition to separate good from bad (boirer) on Shabbos and 

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