Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Manischewitz Gefilte Fish in Liquid Broth

Since today is the first day of actual day of Passover (as I said in the introduction to "Kosher for Passover Week," because of the way the date fell, I took some liberties time-wise), I thought today was fitting to present you with one of the few foods for Passover or otherwise that I personally will pass over.

Gefilte fish is a type of patty or ball made up of the mashed meat of various fishes, matzoh meal (think bread crumbs made of matzoh), and egg whites. There are different ways to serve it, and there are different versions. Some versions are sweetened, some are not, some are in broth, some are firmer and served sliced. Sometimes there is skin, sometimes not.

I have personally never met a gefilte fish I liked. I know that right now many people are probably aghast, but I'm sorry, I just can't do it. I would rather eat cat food -- wet style cat food -- as I am convinced that it would taste better than gefilte fish.

Now after all of that, and knowing my personal stance about not reviewing items that I know I won't like, because I feel that it would be unfair to both the product and the readers, you must be wondering: Do I have a gefilte fish review up anyway?

Yes. I do. But I have not gone back on my principles. As much as I personally dislike gefilte fish, the reality is that for many people, not having it at a Seder would be akin to not having pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving. Or worse. So I am doing something that I do not as a rule do -- I am handing over the reins of the review to someone who actually does like gefilte fish.

Chris, in addition to (sort of) sparing you all from my otherwise strange punctuation and anarchic spelling, taking the photos for the reviews and doing all the special pictures and graphics, is earning his keep today by reviewing this jar of Manischewitz Gefilte Fish in Liquid Broth. All of the thoughts below and the rating reflect his thoughts and tastes, not mine. (I think I made my thoughts pretty clear.) So, with that...

Yes, I do like gefilte fish. I have to admit that I am somewhat spoiled in this regard, as most of the Seders I have attended in the past featured gefilte fish that was actually homemade...and delicious. I have also had ready-to-eat gefilte fish, of varying quality, though so far not including Manischewitz.

But, since Manischewitz is the far and away the King Kong Bundy of the American kosher food industry, Gigi and I thought it appropriate that I should finally get around to trying their product.

Manischewitz Gefilte Fish is made with mild, white-fleshed fish -- specifically, carp, mullet, whitefish, and pike. You would think that such a blend wouldn't smell terribly "fishy," but you'd be wrong. As soon as you open the jar, the fish odor just about knocks you over. As Gigi suggested, it's reminiscent of wet cat food.

Of course, sometimes things smell a lot stronger than they taste. Heck, some things taste pretty good while smelling horrible. (Durian comes to mind -- and, as with gefilte fish, it is something I rather like, but Gigi doesn't. So in the unlikely event that a durian product is ever featured here, I'll be the one reviewing it.) And for the sake of the review, I was willing to give it the benefit of the doubt...

Well, they certainly looked decent, cute little fish croquettes sitting there on a plate with a small glass dish of prepared horseradish on the side. And I have to say they sliced beautifully. The texture is as even as you could wish for; smooth and soft but not crumbly. There are no stray pieces of cartilage, bone, or any unidentifiable tough bits.

I just wish they'd tasted even remotely as good as they looked. But they tasted every bit as strong as they smelled. I tried them solo, and I tried them glopped with the horseradish. It was only with generous amounts of horseradish that I found them somewhat passable. I am willing to admit that this may just be me, as I do not like strongly flavored fish. If you're planning to serve salmon or mackerel, for instance, don't invite me to dinner. But I wouldn't have expected the above-described fish blend to be so potent. Either way, I didn't finish them. I suppose I could have under duress, but it sure wouldn't have been a labor of love.

I had a friend, years ago, who used to make a spread out of gefilte fish, sour cream, and horseradish. She would smear it on black bread, sometimes with a thin slice of red onion on top. Its charms eluded me, as I detest most forms of sour cream, but I can assure you that among our circle it had its fans. The only criticism people occasionally made was that sometimes the gefilte fish just wasn't quite as assertive against the other ingredients as they would have liked. I don't remember what brand she used; but in retrospect, maybe she should have tried Manischewitz.

About all I can say is that if you prefer a "fishier" tasting gefilte fish, you may find the Manischewitz brand quite good. It certainly didn't appeal to me.

Yes, I like gefilte fish. I just don't like this gefilte fish.


Albertsons Supermarket




70 calories per piece.


Contains fish, eggs, and wheat. Dairy free. Kosher.




katie said...

Dude, my roommate bought some of this the other day, and I told her she had to eat it outside because the stench makes me want to vomit.

Annette said...

I've heard of this but never knew what it actually was. Annnnnddd, I know I will never try it.

Looks like a washed out loofah to me.

Gigi said...

Clearly you are a wise soul- that's what I think it smells like too.

I would personally much rather eat a USED washed out loofah over this any day.