Greeting Merkel and city residents, Bush is full of charm. He says "good morning," mentions the gorgeous weather and thanks a local fisherman for the present he gave the president: a barrel of Bismarck herring.
Normally, I don't associate W. with Woody Allen, whose comedy Love and Death involves a herring merchant:
As if it wasn't bad luck enough, the second blow of fate is struck when the secret love of his heart and a frequent opponent in philosophical disputes, his beautiful cousin Sonja (Diane Keaton) decides to marry a foul smelling herring merchant Leonid Voscovec ("When something hurts herring, it hurts me") right before Boris' departure to the war.
However, I made an immediate association, notwithstanding the fact that even Mel Brooks's Yiddish-speaking Indian chief did not ride the range with herring in his saddlebags.
The connection to Israel's troubles in the Middle East is, presumably, coincidental.
The now closed Swedish restaurant Gustaf Anders, in Costa Mesa, Califonria, used to serve four kinds of herring. Tasty, if you like that sort of thing. And the herring was not only an important food fish, second only to cod, but was the subject of many jokes:
You've heard, perhaps, the one about the Jew who asks his friend a riddle: "What is green, hangs on the wall and whistles?"
The answer, as it turns out, is a herring. "But a herring isn't green," protests his friend.
"Nu, paint it green."
"But a herring doesn't hang on a wall."
"So, hang it on a wall."
"But a herring doesn't whistle!"
"I know," says the man. "I just put that in to make it hard."
Or the one about the herring that complains to a restaurant customer, "What's the matter, you don't eat no more at Ratner's?" Or Woody Allen's parody of chasidic tales, which turns on the question of whether a man's daughter most closely resembles a matjes or a Bismarck herring. Or any one of countless others — the point being that the herring, like the surly waiter or the arrogant beggar, has become, oddly enough, one of the defining motifs of Jewish humor.
If you are abundant, fatty, and easy to preserve, you have a place in history.
Back from a four day adventure in the Netherlands, centered around Amsterdam. Historical and cultural attractions aside, one of the true highlights of the visit was getting in Dutch herring. The Dutch have a really fantastic way of preparing their herring called "sousing". This is unlike anything I've experienced in all the years of herring eating and taste sampling back in the U.S. and here in Israel. For those who are not familiar with sousing, here is how Wikipedia defines sousing:
"The term soused herring usually means 'soaked in a mild preserving liquid', and can be used to refer to raw herring in a mild vinegar pickle or the famous Dutch brined herring. As well as vinegar, the marinade might contain cider, wine or tea, sugar, herbs (usually bay leaf), spices (usually mace), chopped onion....
The soused herring (maatjesharing or just maatjes in Dutch, or matjes in German and Swedish) is an especially mild salt herring, which is made from young immature herrings. The herrings are ripened for a couple of days in oak barrels in a salty solution, or brine. The pancreatic enzymes which support the ripening make this version of salt herring especially mild and soft....
This process of preparing herring (known as "gibbing") was developed in the Middle Ages by the Dutch. Herrings are caught between the end of May and the beginning of July in the North Sea near Denmark or Norway, before the breeding season starts. This is because herrings at this time are unusually rich in oils (over 15%) and their roeand milt have not started to develop.
The brine used for Dutch soused herring has a much lower salt content and is much milder in taste than the German Loggermatjes. To protect against infection bynematodes of the genus Anisakis, Dutch regulations mandate freezing to at least minus 45°C before salting. In the modern day, soused herrings can therefore be produced throughout the year."
They are correct--- the herring has an incredibly mild taste and buttery texture. Every time we ordered one on the street, we ended up going for seconds!! Absolutely great!!