Last night I sat around a small table with four other Jews, all of us rhapsodizing on the wonders of white fish as we ate it. “I was weaned on this stuff,” I tell them. “Rachel loved it as a baby,” Liz says. “It’s great,” Steve says. “I still love white fish,” Rachel adds. Then we talked about how our non-Jewish friends often raise their eyes and back away from talk of or the eating of actual white fish. We collectively shrug.
A few weeks earlier, doing Taslich at the river, I was in a conversation with other friends about white fish. “Ah! White fish,” said Cheryl. “With the beautiful golden skin,” added Sharyn, her eyes lighting up. That’s when I discovered an amazing secret: the Community Mercantile sells white fish on occasion, which explains why we were eating it last night.
What is it about white fish? Well, first of all, it’s smoked, so it’s like smoked salmon (or lox), but better. It’s flufflier and moister, and it just tastes incredible. It’s a food many of us ate around the same time we tasted our first bagel (or even beforehand), so there’s that infant imprinting on white fish that many of us carry in our taste buds. It’s also just friggin’ delicious. Add to this that it’s rare in these parts, and it becomes something we crave even more so. And yes, it’s healthier than a lot of other foods I ate as a young child (bowls of sour cream and bananas, for instance).
Now that I’ve eaten white fish, after many years without, I’m very happy, and I plan to eat a lot more of it. If you haven’t tried it, you might consider it, or maybe it’s like lukefish for Norwegians: if you haven’t grown up with it, you just can’t stomach trying it. No problem though — that just leaves more white fish for those of us who dream of it.