Falafel vs. Crap

It’s a well-known fact that trayf is defined as such in part for religious reasons, but also in part because its consumption causes news stories like this. But now Gawker informs us that, “Contrary to popular belief, keeping kosher does NOT protect you from tapeworms.” Can it be? In the New York Times, Dr. Larry Zaroff discusses “the Jewish housewives’ disease:”

My mother, like her mother, was an expert Jewish cook, their specialties famous in our extended family. Their secret: taste as you go. Season slowly until the perfect flavor comes through. It’s a safe technique with latkes or kreplach but not always with gefilte fish, a ground concoction of freshwater fish, spices, eggs, salt and matzo meal.

It continues, and gets progressively more graphic, but this is all you need to know: gefilte fish and sushi should not, under any circumstances, be confused. Don’t taste gefilte fish until it’s good and ready, or, perhaps, at all. In the historical transition from shtetl Judaism to Jewish nationalism, perhaps the greatest achievement was the move from slimy lumps of pureed fish to crispy lumps of pureed chickpea.

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16 Comments

  • No fear that my wife will ever make her own gefilte fish. My question is, why can we then trust sushi?

  • We can’t completely trust sushi (Chicago Japanese restaurants, at least, have warning signs), but it appears to be a freshwater/saltwater issue. Some fish are more problematic than others.

  • Yeah, it really is a matter of quality and freshness. I grew up eating sashimi (raw fish without the rice), sushi (with the rice) and poke (“poh-kay” Hawaiian style raw fish). Let me tell you, we have strict quality control PLUS people here are generally well educated on the subject. Most of our fish is fresh, meticulously inspected (bad fish just won’t sell) and chilled to kill parasites. Mostly from the ocean – fish is always in high demand… Ahi and Aku (tuna varieties) are a favorite. Au (marlin) is a favorite too, but not kosher.

    According to my wife, the BIG problem is finding nori (seaweed wrap) that’s kosher, because a lot of them contain parasites like seahorses…

    Just food for thought 🙂

  • 1) I thought irradiation was being used successfully to kill these parasites.

    2) That’s what you get for eating sweet gefilte fish. More black pepper!

  • The obvious lesson is to never eat gefilte fish. Anything you have to smother completely in horseradish just to make edible should not be eaten. Blech!

  • My mom used to taste the raw gefilte fish by putting it in her mouth to check the seasoning then spitting it out – made me gak when I saw her do that. However, gefilte fish rocks, love the stuff. And the sushi comparison is even more interesting concidering that I’ve had Japanese friends who’d go to my family’s restaurant just for the gefilte fish, reminded them of a similar dish they’d get at home.

  • What’s with all the hating of the GF? GF is my fuel. None of that glass jar crap of course, but quality homemade peppery (not sweet!)delicious fish loaf!

  • Laya – ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!!

    Muffti – Yes… BLECH!

    Harry – I may one day like the fresh stuff – but the only experience I have with said fishloaf is the bottled “taste of a memory”. I nearly hurled the last time (REALLY!) – I think I’ve sworn it off for good…

  • Haish Hagadol, dude, there is NO comparison between that nasty and evil jarred stuff and the wonder that is homemade gefilte fish!

  • This is a most horrifying article and I am totally grossed out. Does the jarred stuff pose risk of tapeworm? I would assume the put enough chemicals in it to kill the buggers, no?

    Anyone care to discuss the after effects of cholent that’s been left to cook overnight at a temperature that is below safety level, cause I won’t ever be going near that stuff again either!

  • ha! cute post… i agree that gefilte fish, like hot dogs of the land, should be left untouched.

    on the other hand, Anthony Bourdain’s “Les Halles Cookbook” (which I recently purchased) gives a recipe for “Quenelles de brochet” that he says is the “French version of gefilte fish. But better.” I’ll try it and get back to you.

    Oh, and not to offend anyone, but veganism is completely unnatural and unhealthy, as far as I’m concerned. Maybe the post should say “Vegetarianism’s sudden appeal?”

    Cheers!

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