Monday, October 26, 2009

Review & GIVEAWAY: What the hell is a Gefilte fish?


I spent the first eighteen years of my life in the Bible Belt. In case you had any doubt, Protestant is the way of life there. Growing up, I knew a handful of Catholics and only two Jews. Two.

Then I moved to New York. I started hearing descriptions that involved one’s Jewishness instead of one’s Baptist-ness, and I had no idea what any of these characteristics meant. And though I’ve spent five years here and numerous hours with my friends in the “Jew frat,” I still don’t find much to which I can relate. Who knew that Challah bread was 1) Jewish, and 2) not pronounced like ‘chew’ or like ‘chronic’? Well, not I, as the kids I babysit informed me last year as they ridiculed my Jewish naivety.

When I was approached with Sex, Drugs, & Gefilte Fish: The Heeb Storytelling Collection, I had my doubts—not of its quality or humor, since several top-notch actors, writers, and comedians contribute to this story collection, but if I had absorbed enough New York Jewishness to appreciate (or even understand!) the humor.

However, these stories on sex, drugs, work, and family are more like a casserole of angst-ridden, self-reflective hilarity with a little bit of Jewish flavor thrown in. The publisher describes it as “an examination of what ‘Jewishness’ means” to the stories’ authors, but I think it can be relatable to anyone with an experience that is just so ridiculous, it becomes self-defining. The stories are occasionally vulgar, mostly hilarious, and always refreshingly honest. One of my favorites was about a 12-year-old boy who thought Bo Derek was a man, so he convinced his mom to take to him to see “10” to find out what was so special about “him.” Another by actor/comedian Michael Showalter describes “mustorderitis,” the phenomenon that forces one to order a specific item on a menu, even if you know it is going to be garbage. Face it…gazpacho from a diner in the middle of West Virginia is not going to be very good.

The stories are so short that I found it hard to put the book down. You’ll keep telling yourself, “I’ll just read another one…ok, just one more.” I laughed throughout, but at the end, my question about gefilte fish still remains unanswered (see post title).

The fine people at Hachette have graciously offered FIVE copies of Sex, Drugs, and Gefilte Fish to our US/Canadian readers! Each of the below will get you one entry (max 3):

  1. Leave a comment with your email on this post and explain gefilte fish to me! If you don’t know, make something up and entertain me!
  2. Tweet about it (@booknerds)!
  3. Subscribe and let me know about it (if you’re already subscribed, let me know about that, too!)

Contest is open until 11:59PM EST on Monday, November 9th. Winners will be announced the next day.

Good luck!


Salvatore said…

Great post. It's a rather funny read. I can't imagine living in a land sans Jews. Or without challah

Gefilte fish is stored in the same jar as the celebrity heads on 'Futurama'. Just to note.

Colin said…

I know gefilte fish can be confused for meatloaf. I don't know what that means, but it doesn't sound pleasant.

Kristen said…

This sounds like a terribly fun read. Please enter me (and I am subscribed through Google Reader).

whitreidsmama at yahoo dot com

P.S. Gefilte fish is nasty stuff. Don't worry about finding out what it is exactly, just avoid it at all costs!

Comicspott said…

I would take a free copy! My email is lehelman at gmail
Gefilte fish is good with horse radish – it's basically every kind of fish imaginable ground into 1 big ball and put in a jar with nasty stuff. I would recommend it, but only if you're jewish and are accustomed to strange tasting foods. And i'm subscribed thru blogspot.
Hi Sal!

Dreamybee said…

The best I can tell you is that gefilte fish is some scary-ass looking crap in a jar. Whoever decided it belonged in a see-through jcontainer had A) very bad judgement, B) very poor eye-sight, or C) a very dark sense of humor. Things like that belong in a can, like refried beans.

I am subscribed to your blog through Google Reader!

AngelitaBonita said…

Hmmm what is gefilte fish…It's hard to describe this very unpleasant looking specimen in a jar. I see it at the grocery stores around every big Jewish holiday and it grosses me out everytime.

Basically it's deboned, ground up and then rolled into a ball, pieces of fish. Do not ask me how they taste because I've never tried them due to their creepy appearance. And have you ever opened one of those jars and got that juice on you. OMG barf o rama. The smell is….well it's just yucky.

AngelitaBonita said…

PS email address is and I have subscribed to this blog and it's on the top of my google homepage.

Thanks 🙂

bookaddict said…

I'd love to win a copy. Geflite fish is popular in the jewish community. They are poached fish patties made from a mixture of deboned fish.I'll also post on twitter. @Jennifer_q85

Rebecca Graham said…

I think Gefilte fish is a ball of deboned fish.

rhoneygtn at yahoo dot com

Hppv50 said…

sounds like and interesting book and Geflite fish is that thing that you forgot was in your fridge for 2 weeks and started to smell.

i tweeted as well

SharpTeethOfLove said…

I have no idea but I always pictured it as maybe a horrifying cube of jello with assorted fish parts suspended in it..

SharpTeethOfLove said…

I tweeted about this here: