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The Well-Filled Fish

April 15, 1993

I read your Passover edition (April 4) with interest and would like to call your attention to Rachel Greene's "Gefilte Fish Was a Very Big Deal."

Your readers might want to know that gefilte fish meant "filled fish." Knowledgeable cooks took the trouble to "fill" the skin of the prepared chopped fish, which they then immersed in the bubbling broth of fish heads, etc. Then a new generation (is it possible that Greene's grandma was of the "new" generation?) decided to eliminate the time-consuming effort of filling the skins and just made ovals of the chopped fish which they then immersed in the broth.

So tasty was that raw fish which had been mixed with egg and pepper and onions, that my mother would have a snack waiting for us when we'd trek home from school: some of that raw filling spread on a slice of Jewish corn bread. What a treat. My brother and I would beg for more but Mama would say she needed the rest for the fillachtz --the filling for the fish's skin. It was our first encounter with a raw fish. Is it any wonder that we are sushi lovers today?

Depending on which district you came from, the cook would either use sugar (for a sweet gefilte fish) or pepper (for a "hot" and spicy fish). Mama used carp (of course) and white fish and a third, which we knew only as "buffel." Is there a fish known as buffel or buffalo?

--DOROTHY N. ROCHMIS

Los Angeles

Editors Note: There are three species of buffalofish swimming in North American freshwaters. They are among the largest and best-known of the group of fish known as suckers, and they greatly resemble carp. Indeed, they are considered interchangeable with carp in most recipes.

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