Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Saturday, April 12, 2014
Sunday, April 6, 2014
So What IS A Herring Maven?
Here is what Wikipedia says:
A maven (also mavin) is a trusted expert in a particular field, who seeks to pass knowledge on to others. The word maven comes from Hebrew, and means one who understands, based on an accumulation of knowledge.The word reached English through Late Hebrew mēbhīn, which in turn derived it from the Hebrew mevin (מבֿין), meaning "one who understands," and relates to the word binah, which denotes understanding or wisdom in general. It was first recorded (spelled mayvin) in English in 1950 (in the Jewish Standard of Toronto), and popularized in the United States in the 1960s by a series of commercials created by Martin Solow for Vita Herring, featuring "The Beloved Herring Maven." The “Beloved Herring Maven“ ran in radio ads from 1964-1968, and was then brought back in 1983 with Allan Swift, the original voice of the Maven.
Many sites credit Vita with popularizing the word maven. An example of a print advertisement including the Maven is: "Get Vita at your favorite supermarket, grocery or delicatessen. Tell them the beloved Maven sent you. It won’t save you any money: but you’ll get the best herring".
Since the 1980s it has become more common since William Safire adapted it to describe himself as "the language maven". The word is mainly confined to American English, but did not appear with the publication of the 1976 edition of Webster's Third New International Dictionary; it is, however, included in the Oxford English Dictionary second edition (1989). Numerous individuals and entities now affix maven or mavin to indicate their expertise in a particular area.
Saturday, April 5, 2014
Time for a little herring history:
A Tour Through the History of America’s Ethnic Cuisine
By Joel Denker
May 29, 2008
From Chapter 4: “The Heartburn of Nostalgia: Jewish Food in America”Herring and smoked fish, those passions of the Jewish immigrant, would also find their way onto the supermarket counter and into the American kitchen. Two young Czech Jews, Victor and George Heller, who arrived in New York City in the early 1900s, were savvy merchandisers on this culinary frontier. These German-speaking immigrants found jobs in a delicatessen in Yorkville, a German section of the city.
Herring, a fish they loved from their childhood, was one of the shop’s biggest sellers. It appealed to Jewish shoppers as well as to Poles, Germans, and other European immigrants. “In the old country, it was a staple food for them,” Aaron Gilman, Victor Heller’s son-in-law, observed. After gaining several years of retail experience, the two brothers opened their own delicatessen in 1915 and soon thereafter launched two more.
About the book and authorIn The World on a Plate, Denker, a professor and food writer, assembles oral histories of various immigrant endeavors in the food industries of America. Chapters focus on the immigrant cultures of the Italians, Lebanese, Greeks, Jews, Chinese, South Asians from India and Pakistan, and Hispanics; along the way, Denker chronicles the mainstreaming of many ethnic foods (chow mein, curry, chili) and profiles several immigrant-founded companies.
Excerpt reprinted with permission of Bison Books (2007).
They marketed an “institutional pack” to restaurants, delicatessens, and mom-and-pop stores. In fact, in the early days, they sold their product to “anyone who would buy it,” Mr. Gilman who became an executive with the business, commented. After trying cardboard containers, the Hellers began packing their herring in jars, their most radical marketing breakthrough. Before that shoppers “would pick them out of a barrel and wrap them in a newspaper,” Mr. Gilman noted.
World War I slowed the herring business. Victor went into the army, and the business’s imports from Europe stopped. George improvised by organizing a domestic herring fleet that sailed from Provincetown. Business rebounded in the 1920s, and the Hellers expanded into smoked fish, another popular ethnic item. They acquired an old-time smoking business, the Richard Schnibbe Company, and started processing salmon, whitefish, and sturgeon in its Brooklyn plant. Constantly looking for new product lines, the brothers added olives and caviar to their list.
In 1930 the Hellers formed the Vita Food Products Company, which merged their enterprise with a number of smaller operations they had purchased. Vita became their products’ brand name as well; the name came from the bulk item they had been buying from the F. H. Phillips Company, a business in Lovenstoft, England, near the Scottish border. Vita, which meant “health” in Latin, also, they felt, had a nice ring to it.
The enterprise was still a modest one, however, and it was not until the 1950s and 1960s that sales rose. Vita, which grew into a $40-to-$50-million-a-year business, no longer had to depend on the small retailer. The supermarkets, which emerged as a marketing force after the war, bought an ever-growing share of its products. The Hellers diversified, expanding into maraschino cherries, sweet and sour pickles, mushrooms, and red and green peppers. The company also acquired more businesses, bought fishing boats, and built modern plants, canneries, and smokehouses.
But herring was still the foundation of their company. Starting with bismarck, the small whole fish, Vita introduced herring fillets and then herring tidbits. After the war, the Hellers brought out their best-known product, herring in cream sauce. Vita herring was “one of the first convenience foods that people could buy,” Aaron Gilman says. “They could take it home and consume it with a piece of black bread.”
Fresh herring served up Dutch style: in slices with onion and gherkins on the side.
Vita moved from the ethnic press to the general media, to newspapers and television. One of their newspaper ads for herring tidbits showed an empty jar. The caption read, “Herring Maven Strikes Again.” Maven, a Yiddish word, which came from the Hebrew for “understanding,” was at that time not widely known outside of Jewish circles. In a clever strategy, Vita employed an ethnic expression for “expert” to give their herring cachet.
Vita has shed its immigrant past. Few except the company’s oldest customers know the origins of its products. Now owned by an investment group based in Chicago, Vita sells its herring and nova standards as well as salmon spread, marinated salmon, salmon burgers, herring fillets in wine sauce, shrimp cocktail, salad dressings, and an array of other goods.
“In the distant past, the Vita brand was known for its quality line of kosher products which were purchased by an ethnically narrow consumer base,” a report on the company noted. “The market consisted primarily of Jewish adherents to religious dietary law. However, today, over three-quarters of Vita’s product end users are non-Jewish.”
In modern merchandising language, Aaron Gilman sums up the progress of Vita herring: The Heller brothers transformed it from a “bulk, unbranded product to a packaged, branded product.” From barrel to supermarket shelf — a change that would have amazed the peddlers of the Lower East Side.
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Herring Connoisseurs Switching?
source: Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute
(Clupea harengus)Order: Clupeiformes Family: Clupeidae
Foto: Lauri Urho
Origin and distribution: The Baltic herring is adapted to low salinity and occurs in the whole Baltic Sea. Reproduction takes place along almost the entire coast.
Reproduction: In the Finnish coastal area, herrings spawn in May or June, with autumn spawners accounting for only a very small proportion in the northern Baltic Sea. Herrings spawn in large, dense schools close to the coast, usually at a depth of 1−5 m. The Baltic herring spawns for the first time at 2−3 years of age, when it is 13−15 cm in length and about 20 g in weight. The newly hatched 6−7-mm-long larvae are translucent and very thin.
Diet, growth and migrations: Zooplankton at different developmental stages are important food for herring larvae. Young herrings also feed on various plankton crustaceans. At a length of 15−20 cm, they start to feed on small fishes, too, and once they have reached a length of 25 cm, fish are their main food. There are marked local and temporal differences in growth rate. The average weight of an 8-year-old herring in the Gulf of Finland and main basin is 50−100 g, whereas in the northern Gulf of Bothnia it is 40−60 g, or even less. Fast-growing Baltic herrings were caught especially in the early 1980s, but in the1990s there were numbers of very thin fishes. Among the normally growing Baltic herrings, mainly in spring, there are also “gigantic herrings”, which have an average weight of about 400-500 g. The biggest herring ever caught in Finland weighed 1.1 kg.
The herring is a school fish, migrating annually between spawning and feeding areas. Finnish tagging experiments have shown that feeding migrations are relatively long, but that the fish still tend to return to the same area to spawn. Most herrings spawning on the south and southwest coasts of Finland migrate afterwards to the middle or even southern part of the Baltic Sea. Diurnal vertical migrations are also typical of herring behaviour. In summer, the schools of adult herrings remain near the bottom during the day, only rising to the middle water after sunset. In winter, shoals swim in deep waters, even at depths of over 100 metres.
Fishing and catches: Measured by both the amount and value of the catch, the herring is the most important target of commercial fishing in Finland. The total annual catch of all Baltic Sea countries was less than 100 000 tonnes until the mid 20th century. Catches began to increase in the 1950s along with the expansion of trawl fishing, and in the 1979s the catch amounted to 450 000 tonnes. Catches decreased in the late 1980s and 1990s. In 2003, the herring catch in the Baltic Sea totalled 223 000 tonnes, which was the smallest total in the observation period 1974−2003. Finland took 28% of the total catch. The Bothnian Sea has been the most important fishing area for Finland since the 1990s. In 2003, about 71% of the Finnish herring catch was taken in the Bothnian Sea, 86% by trawl and 13% with trap-nets.
Vulnerability, threats and management: Atlantic herring stocks have suffered heavily from over-fishing. Baltic herring stocks have, however, not collapsed despite the high fishing effort. Stocks have probably been protected by the fact that the Baltic herring spawns widely in shallow water and also that the catch consists mainly of adult fish. The increasing abundance of sprat stocks in the late 1990s, together with the persistently low salinity levels in the Baltic Sea have contributed to a decrease in the growth rate of herring individuals. The effects of eutrophication on herring stocks are not known very well, though severe eutrophication has been found to impair reproduction success, and mass occurrence of plankton algae may have an effect on growth rate. On the other hand, environmental changes in the Baltic Sea may threaten use of the herring, because, as well as healthy substances, herrings have been found to contain substances harmful to humans. The Food Agency has been concerned about the high dioxin concentrations, in large herrings in particular. Some herring connoisseurs have switched to small and medium-sized fishes.