Every year, Jews gather to celebrate the High Holidays: They blow the shofar, they fast, they ask for repentance, and of course, they eat. And every year, there’s someone new at the dinner table, tepidly prodding his or her gefilte fish, and assuring the cook with an unconvincing smile that everything tastes “really good.”
If you ever wondered what that guest was really thinking, BuzzFeed’s new video “The Jewish Food Taste Test,” may have some answers. BuzzFeed served up some Ashkenazi staples — matzoh ball soup, noodle kugel and chopped liver among others — to a handful of first-time Jewish food tasters and answered the pressing question: What happens when you give a goy gefilte fish?
“It’s like a cold sausage with sour paste on top,” said one unimpressed taster. Another was more plainly confused: “I’m not quite sure what meat it is,” he said, befuddled. One man spoke to the near-universal experience of young Jews who grew up despising the dish, only to savor it in their later years: “Maybe it’s an acquired taste.”
While gefilte fish may not have been the most admired dish, other classics garnered more appreciation.
Rugelach was a popular item, with a small bite of the Jewish pastry inspiring an impromptu dance from one taster.
Interestingly, Manischewitz wine — though frequently mocked by members of the tribe — was a hit among the gentiles, though the pronunciation gave more than one some difficulty. The first-time Manischewitz sippers imagined themselves getting a nice buzz off the sweet wine (they had never learned — as many underage Jews inevitably do — that Manischewitz will make you sick long before it gets you drunk).
Chopped liver was held in near universal contempt, with at least three participants commenting on the mushy foods’ likeness to a human waste product.
Matzoh ball soup? One taster called it “the gateway drug to Jewish food,” but another described it as a “giant sponge in a bowl.”
It was the noodle kugel, however, that was most controversial. The gentiles panned it, with one saying he would only make it if he were expecting guests and had nothing but cinnamon and noodles in the house.
Perhaps the fault lay not in the cuisine, or its tasters, but with the execution. The noodle casserole in the video is a pale, soggy-looking thing with oversized hunks of what appears to be fruit on top. Offended viewers commented that this was an affront to kugel, and suggested BuzzFeed contact the viewers’ mothers for a “real” recipe.
At the least they could consult the Nosher, the food blog published by our friends at MyJewishLearning.