Every year at Passover, Jews scarf down gefilte fish while loudly kvetching about how gross it is. The intensely fishy flavor and spongy texture make it a favorite of almost no one. Of course, it wouldn’t be Passover without it. But if that’s true, Passover could be in danger.
According to the New York Times, there is a desperate shortage of gefilte fish gripping some of the most well-known purveyors in the five boroughs. And if you can’t get gefilte fish in New York City, where can you get it?
So why the shortage? Even though it is technically spring, the polar vortex is still causing misery. Parts of the Great Lakes and fishing areas in western Canada, which supply the white fish to be gefilted, are still covered by up to four inches of ice.
According to fisheries specialist Ronald Kinnuen, of Michigan Sea Grant, a joint venture of Michigan State University and the University of Michigan, “This isn’t dropping a line in the water and hauling fish in. These are huge nets, hundreds or thousands of feet in size, and costing $8,000 to $10,000. In these conditions, it’s foolish to try fishing.”
If you do want scooped fish product with no excuses, thank God for Manischewitz.
The company largely avoided the shortage by ordering a combination of fresh and frozen fish from its suppliers up to a year in advance.
But perhaps it’s best to view this gefiltepocalypse not as a crisis, but as an opportunity. Passover will go on, so try something new this year. Any of these five recipes would make a much more enjoyable seafood alternative.
By the way, for anyone who thinks we’re being unnecessarily harsh on gefilte fish, here are actual quotes from people the Times interviewed about this iconic dish, starting with the nicest:
“I’m not crazy about it.”
“Do I like the taste? No.”
“It may taste like cat food, but that’s why I love it.”