My grandmother Jenny Mandel nee Schwartz, came from Minsk, Russia when she was just a baby. Her mother Mary who I am named after made gefilte fish for her family on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. When Jenny was old enough to learn her mother taught her and her sisters, Sarah and Edith.
It all starts with fresh fish. According to my mother, Jenny would pick out her fish, ten pounds of white fish and always one Pike, once home the fish were kept alive in the only bathtub in the house. The next day newspaper would be spread around the floor and kitchen table, the fishmonger would stop by…it was time to kill the fish. As a child my mother never took a bath and she never ate the fish!
When Jenny was in her 80’s it was time to teach my mother Irene. From then on twice a year my mother would make the gefilte fish with her late best friend Theda Warner. I know that they had a long fun day of cooking, chopping, cleaning and lots of good gossip! And fortunately we don’t have to worry about the bathtub, we can buy our fish already cleaned from Nortown!
Well, my mother turned 80 this year so I guess it is time I learn to make the fish!
I hope to carry on the tradition with my grandmother’s handwritten recipe.
My mother Irene.