At the back of the hill

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And that you might like cheese-doodles.
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Friday, March 03, 2017


This city, while a marvelous amusement park, is a culinary wasteland, as it lacks herring. Specifically, green herring. Oh sure, there are places where you can buy Polish pickled herring, or jarred Scandinavian herring, even whole herring in a bucket of brine, which you must clean bone soak and eat very carefully, like a Russian. And sushi places sometimes do stuff with herring. But specifically, there is no streetside stand on a quiet square where you can get a very lightly cured fillet of herring with or without chopped onions, your choice.

Recommendation: have the chopped onions.

Americans are not up on herring.

It's a character flaw.

Probably a good thing, too, because the English, Irish, Scandinavians, Eastern Europeans, and sundry other primitive bastards are already overfishing the North Sea and driving up herring prices in the Netherlands while causing diminished supplies and the occasional shortage, and we Dutch do not need anymore competition from you hogs.

[Jewish chopped herring salad]

16 ounce jar pickled herring.
1 onion.
1 green apple.
3 hard boiled eggs.
A brisk squeeze of lemon juice.
A pinch of ground white pepper.

Drain the herring and remove whatever pickling spices are among the fish pieces. Rinse, drain again. With a cleaver chop to a medium size, about the texture of small broken shrimp.
Peel, core, and chop the apple slightly smaller than the fish, squeezing the lemon over to prevent oxidation.
Traditionally you would use vinegar instead, because lemons were an imported luxury from less beastly weathered climes, but screw that, you now have lemons; use them.
Chop the onion a little finer than the apple.
Regarding the hard boiled eggs, chop these rather coarsely, as they should be recognizable pieces.

Mix everything, but don't be anal about it. Smooth plastic wrap over the top and chill the mixture for a few hours. Serve with dense rye bread, or if you have pretensions, thick sourdough toast points.

A little freshly minced parsley or dill makes a lovely garnish.
But you could also just poof a little paprika over.
If it's not moist enough, add olive oil.

For some people this is comfort food. Germans and Scandinavians could add sourcream, Gallitzianers more apple and a punch of sugar, and Litvaks would sneer that it is too sweet. Foodsnobs might substitute scallion and chives for some of the onion. But all of this is missing the point:
This is NOT refined food.

Still life with herring, by Pieter Claesz (1597 - 1661)
Pushkin Museum, Moscow

I actually haven't made this dish in several years, as my apartment mate believes herring should be raw and green, Dutch style (actually a very light natural cure), and would be grievously hurt at this abuse of a fish. She's Chinese American and naturally has strong opinions about seafood.

Obviously I haven't ever made it for an office party either.
I once made an Indonesian curry for "Festive Friday".
Too damned many white bread Americans.
Three people just loved it.
Out of forty.

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