Talk:Gefilte fish

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After I made this page, a friend of mine informed me that Gefilte is german for filled and that the recipe was traditionally made by removing the bones and flesh from the skin of a fish, pulping the flesh, and then stuffing the flesh back into the skin.

However, I will not add this to the definition until I verify this.

 -FB (

We are talking about irony here,[edit]

not paradox. It's ironic that the name "gefilte" has come to refer to something that isn't stuffed. Why did you revert it, Jfdwolff? Where's the paradox? I don't see a paradox. —RadRafe | T 23:46, 26 Apr 2005 (UTC)

IIRC, the practice of not putting the filling back into the fish is fairly longstanding. Certainly, no cookery book from the past 50 years tells you to do it, or mentions it in any way other than as the origins of the name.
Also, in the UK, white-fleshed salt-water fish such as hake are used for gefilte fish. User:Alexisr

See irony. I think paradox is a better description of the situation. JFW | T@lk 06:56, 26 July 2005 (UTC)

It is indeed ironic and not a paradox. How is paradox a better description? Justify this response please. 01:25, 23 October 2005 (UTC)anonymous

You can argue that the semantic change is 'ironic' and 'parodoxical', but if you ask me, it's the *mildest* form of irony/paradox, if at all. Shifts in meaning happen too frequently in the English language to make it really a paradoxical/ironic issue. If you really feel the urge to add some comment regarding the etymology, you could say that the phrase 'gefilte fish' underwent a semantic shift. A semantic shift is when a word attaches itself to an associated object. For example, a 'bureau' was once a woolen covering used to cover a desk. It eventually came to mean the desk itself and then the office that used the desks. If you saw someone working in the Federal Bureau of Investigations at a desk without a woolen covering on it, would it be an ironic situation? A parodoxical situation? I think no, but correct me if I'm wrong.-- 21:23, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

Why we eat Gefilte Fish[edit]

I have heard the explanation the the reason for the recipe is because of Borer on numerous occasions but when I mentioned it to my Grandmother she said this is not so. Most Eastern European Jews were very poor and many of the recipes were about stretching food as much as possible. Minced fish can easily be mixed with all kinds of other stuff and thus the fish can be stretched. My grandmother who came from a relatively wealthy family never ate Gefilte fish becuase it was poor man's food.

It's possible that's why she believed it was done, and it's also possible both reasons were correct. She may never have known the reason the food originated; in fact, it's likely she did not. Jayjg (talk) 17:19, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
Both reasons may be correct, but I think it is important for understanding not to make everything seem like a ritual food. That's like having an article on "Beef Frye" (I think it is called) which is a substitute bacon (Parstrami is sometimes used for the same purpose) and then give an explanation of the biblical proscription on eating pork, and what the scholars say about that, and saying "this is why Jews eat Beef Frye." Jews (or Muslims for that matter) eat Beef Frye because they want a spicy crispy food like cured bacon that is Kosher or Halal. Actually it would be a better example than gefilte fish, because many cultures have fish balls, which is an inexpensive way to make fish, without any religious tradition. Also take the example of Eggplant Caviar. Caviar from Kosher fish is itself Kosher and Pareve. So why make Eggplant Caviar? It's cheaper. Or do have to look to see what the sages said about skinning eggplants during the full moon? -- Cecropia 17:54, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
Good points Jim. The issue here, though, is that the claim that gefilte fish was created to avoid the Sabbath prohibition of borer is well attested, e.g. [1], [2], [3], [4] whereas the claim that is was simply a way of stretching the food budget is, as far as I know, not attested. Jayjg (talk) 18:10, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
I would suspect there are analyses and theories about food in general which suggest that the primary reason why any sort of mince meat exists is to enable both the use of parts which are too small or otherwise not appertising and also to enable the addition of carbohydrates to stretch out the food. These may have not have specifically mentioned gefilte fish since there's obviously little point analysing this form in particular so we probably can't mention this in this article as that would be OR. But it might be useful to point to an article on mince meat foods in general if one exists. Clearly people adapt and change things bringing their own traditions and myths to any type of food, and this includes gefilte fish. And as the reasons change (it's no longer so important to preserve meat) the foods which have developed are often changed to serve different purposes. I think it is rather unlikely gefilte fish was created for religious reason, unless it was created in say the past few decades (which from what I can tell, it wasn't) even if it serves an important religious function. Nil Einne (talk) 10:32, 21 January 2008 (UTC)

We eat it because it is yummy! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:10, 5 April 2010 (UTC)

Chrain vs.khrain vs. khrayn[edit]'s a boring post that may arouse some arbitrary heat. How do you best transliterate the word for horseradish? Chrain looks like it should be said like "chain". Wouldn't khrayn be better? Adam Holland 21:25, 30 March 2006 (UTC)

If we were transliterating it for the first time, I'd agree with you -- but the custom of transliterating it into Chrain is longstanding (just google it). --Ori Livneh (talk) 08:02, 18 July 2006 (UTC)
And "khrayn" looks more like an alien conquerer then a bitter condiment.
I have a jar in my fridge right now and it's spelt Chrayne on the label. I don't think it matters too much. (talk) 13:01, 2 June 2008 (UTC)

khreyn. There actually is a standard way to romanize (respell in "Roman"/Latin/English letters) Yiddish words, authorized by the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research and the Library of Congress, and used in all sorts of scholarly work. For כריין, the romanization is khreyn. This represents the sounds precisely and unambiguously, if you know the system, and the system is very simple:, That doesn't mean that it's the most common way to write the word in English, but it is a very useful, widely recognized way. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Linguistatlunch (talkcontribs) 18:58, 22 July 2016 (UTC)

1. On Wikipedia we go by WP:COMMONNAME. 2. The YIVO does not have the monopole on Yiddish. Debresser (talk) 17:44, 23 July 2016 (UTC)

Gefilte fish in popular culture[edit]

I think it would be worth a mention on the page that Gefilte fish is mentioned in the movie Rush Hour 2 starring Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker. --Cromwellt|talk|contribs 00:59, 26 October 2007 (UTC)

It wouldn't surprise me if it's mentioned in a lot of movies, books, TV shows etc. Is there any reason why you feel we should mention this one in particular? See WP:Trivia Nil Einne (talk) 10:21, 21 January 2008 (UTC)

I understand that there was a minor league pitcher from the 1920s, whose father -- an Orthodox rabbi -- forbade him from signing a contract with the N.Y. Yankees as they played on the Jewish Sabbath. He made his name as a star hurler with the Stars of David barnstorming team. A low budget (extremely low budget) Yiddish language film was made, based on the character, but they changed him into a footback fullback, a la Red Grange, to cash in on that athelete's popularity, and to prevent a lawsuit from the actual pitcher whose story the producers stole. The character's nickname in the picture was "The Galloping Gelfilte Fish," as he complained about being stuffed into another player's uniform that was much too small before taking the field. It was a comedy, no doubt. One of the lost "gems" of American cinema. Shemp Howard, Jr. (talk) 21:02, 2 June 2009 (UTC)

WikiProject Food and drink Tagging[edit]

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It doesn't say whether the fish is normally served hot or cold. I think a bit more information could be given about how it is normally served.

I am not sure about where to check for "official" information, but I know that in my family (Lithuanian Jews) it is served cold, after being in the fridge for some time, and by that time the gelatin is hardened already. It is possible that other cultures it is server otherwise, but I wouldn't know too well because I don't even like the dish :) -Nomæd (Boris A.) (user, talk, contribs) 09:15, 18 March 2009 (UTC)
It has to be served cold, because the dish consists (according to its recipe) of a fish balls/patties and a jelly around it. The jelly, of course, has to be cold. I've checked this (just to be sure) on a few sites, English and Hebrew ones. Vbond (talk) 17:38, 21 March 2009 (UTC)
Alright Vaga, then you make Gefilte Fish for the next time there's a Pub night. -Nomæd (Boris A.) (user, talk, contribs) 08:02, 22 March 2009 (UTC)

History: Alewives for Gefilte fish in the US[edit]

In Maine in the late 1950's and early 1960's a spring alewives fishery employed women to manually fillet freshly caught alewives, pack them in barrels with salt, and ship them to places like Chicago and New York for use as Gefilte fish. Alewives are a type of herring, but are too bony to be very edible so were at that time primarily a stable for those who couldn't afford anything else. This seasonal alewives fishery had been in operation for over 100 years prior to that time, so they might well have shipped by rail previous to that period. (talk) 06:50, 6 March 2010 (UTC)

"Gefilte fish" in Hebrew[edit]

The lead contains an alleged name for this dish in Hebrew. Is this useful, and is it correct?

The word-by-word translation of gefilte fish into Dutch is gevulde vissen. But this is not how the dish is known there. It is generally called Gefilte Fisch, like in Germany.

The word-by-word translation of gefilte fish into Polish is ryby wypchane. That could be any dish involving stuffing a fish, although the term perhaps rather conjures up the mental image of mounted game fish, like Big Mouth Billy Bass. It is not a common way to refer to the Yiddish dish that originated in these parts and became generally popular over there. Poles call it karp po żydowsku, which literally means "carp Jewish-style" (traditionally, the fish used are carp).

The word-by-word translation of gefilte fish into modern Hebrew is דגים ממולאים. This can refer to gefilte fish, but, again, also to other stuffed-fish recipes. Non-surprisingly, a more common way in Israel of referring to the dish, introduced there by immigrants who called it by its Yiddish name gefilte fish, is by the Yiddish name, געפילטע פיש.

I suggest that if a Hebrew name is referred to at all, we use גפילטע פיש, not דג ממולא or דגים ממולאים. But we should use a reliable source for that, which I don't have. Perhaps an Israeli cookbook with Yiddish recipes? Lacking such a source, the simplest is to leave the reference to Hebrew out.  --Lambiam 18:48, 26 October 2016 (UTC)

Upon consideration of your argument(s), and understanding all the languages you use, I agree with your argument. Debresser (talk) 20:48, 26 October 2016 (UTC)

Correct German expression[edit]

In German, the dish is known by its Yiddish name gefilte Fisch. The name is cognate to corresponding German words: singular gefüllter Fisch ("stuffed fish"; with r because Fisch is masculine gender), plural gefüllte Fische ("stuffed fishes") which can mean any kind of stuffed fish. Gefüllte Fisch is grammatically wrong in German. So please decide whether you quote singular or plural for the cognate German term, but do not mix them. --Off-shell (talk) 06:07, 10 November 2016 (UTC)

You're right, my mistake. I mean on the level of not looking carefully when I reverted. I do know German.
On the other hand, I came to the realization, that we don't need German here at all! It is Yiddish, so why the German? Debresser (talk) 14:37, 10 November 2016 (UTC)

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