This week the JT popped into three area Jewish eateries to ask customers about what turned out to be a rather ticklish subject:
Do you like gefilte fish?
Miller’s Deli, 2849 Smith Ave., Pikesville
Chatting with the ladies who meet here every week to play mah-jongg.
EILEEN GARFIELD (Pikesville): I make it from the can and it comes out delicious! My family doesn’t really like it, though. They like the fish that I make myself.
MARION AKMAN (Quarry Lake): I make a gefilte fish loaf; I grind it up with veggies, put it in the oven and bake. Everyone loves it.
This leads to an overlapping discussion about gefilte fish grinders; “Do you remember those?” “I saw one on Facebook!” “My bubbe had one.” Further conversing leads to the conclusion that the majority prefers making their gefilte fish from a can. As for whether or not they prefer the gefilte fish that comes in jelly or not, the consensus is a resounding anti-jelly vote. Although some do enjoy using the cooked jelly juice as a kind of de facto broth.
SALLY GROSSMAN (Pikesville): I make my own loaf and all the kids always ask for it: “We want Grandma’s gefilte fish!”
Goldberg’s New York Bagels, 1500 Reisterstown Road, Baltimore
Disparate customers at the bustling deli during lunch time. One, a visitor from as far as Brooklyn, N.Y.
JACK LEW (Brooklyn): I like my gefilte fish. I like it sweet. But food is not a priority in my life.
ED KAFES (Pikesville): I like it from a bottle. Better than homemade; I don’t know why. Consistency, maybe? I don’t like the jelly. I’m a picky eater; wish I was not. I do like my horseradish hot. Nothing watered down.
ANONYMOUS (Baltimore): I love gefilte fish. It tastes good! But only around the Holidays. I don’t like horseradish. I do like the loaf and I like my gefilte fish sweet. Some don’t like it from a jar, but I do.
JEN KAPLAN (Pikesville): Oh, no jelly, no jar! I prefer veggies if I ever make it. If you mix it with mayonnaise, it’s really good.
Kaplan’s lunch mate sitting across from her wishes not to be named but says she only eats gefilte fish around the Holidays, loves horseradish, and then points across the table, distinguishing Kaplan as a bona fide “gefilte fish expert.”
I used to make it a lot more often. I used to make it on Shabbat a lot, but no more. Too many leftovers. Maybe I should make it for Rosh Hashanah. We’ll see.
Elie Zirkind of Pikesville immediately reveals he at first thought the conversation would be about sushi and is delightfully surprised to discover the subject to be gefilte fish.
ELIE ZIRKIND (Pikesville): I love the kind that comes in a roll. I slice it up and use a little horseradish. It’s good any time of year, not just the Holidays. I know some people who don’t like it and some people who eat it all the time!
STEVE’S DELI, 11299 Owings Mills Blvd., Owings Mills
They call themselves “The Rat Pack” and they meet here once a week after meeting at the local JCC.
JOE MYEROWITZ (Owings Mills): Some of the Ravens players like it! And I love it. But I like it plain. I don’t like anything on it.
JERRY LEVENSON (Owings Mills): No, gotta have carrots and a little bit of sauce.
ERIC YOSPE (Pikesville): Debate in my family is … I like it how my mother made it — in pieces — but everyone else? They like it as a casserole. And I hate it as casserole!
A rowdy cacophony erupts over which variety of horseradish is best: white or red?
ROB GERSTEIN (Reisterstown): I like white; it’s hotter. My wife won’t eat regular gefilte fish. Gotta be sweet. And no carp: either white fish or pike.
HOWARD COHEN (Pikesville): I love it. My wife over there? [He points across the small deli to where the Pack’s collective wives are sequestered, enjoying the spectacle of their boisterous husbands deliberating over gefilte fish.] Her mother made it from chicken! And you’d never know it!
ARNOLD SPEART (Mt. Washington): Aw, everything tastes like chicken.