April 12, 2024
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April 12, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Welcome back to “How Should I Know?”—the column that four out of five doctors recommend you stay away from.

Dear Mordechai,

How do I prepare a fish head so it actually tastes good?


Dear D.,

You can’t. There’s a reason that fish heads aren’t a delicacy anywhere. Basically, we’re showing Hashem that the only reason we’re eating fish heads is to say this Yehi Ratzon.

In fact, my son went deep-sea fishing with his camp recently, and he said that whatever the kids caught, the fishermen cut the heads off and threw them right back into the ocean, to grow new bodies, I guess. Like it’s a plant. Like the next guy is going to cast a net and catch a bunch of heads.

In my house, we usually have salmon heads, and I’ve tried flavoring them as if they were salmon, yet the flavor doesn’t seem to penetrate their thick heads. Sure, I can take the heads apart beforehand and pull out the meat, but I kind of feel like it’s not really a head unless you have that eye staring back at you, watching you eat it. One year I tried eating the eye, on a dare. That wasn’t any better. And even that only accommodates up to two family members—four if you eat a fish called the anableps, which actually has four eyes but not the most appetizing name.

“Would you like some anableps?”

“Get away from me!”

Another idea is to just cook the head with the rest of the fish. Whole, with an apple in its mouth.

“Where’s the apple for dipping in honey?”

“What do you mean? It’s right here.”

Some people actually stuff the head with raw gefilte fish and cook it (Stuff it where? The mouth?) and then they eat out the gefilte, which I think is kind of like cheating.

“Look, kids! It was eating gefilte when it died! And carrots!”

The only fish head dish that I was actually able to find is something called “fish head soup.” Just put in several smaller fish heads and dole them out instead of kneidlach!

For extra fun, don’t tell anyone beforehand that you’re doing this.

Dear Mordechai,

What’s a good food to eat right before the fast?


Dear P.,

Fish heads.

Actually, I find that it doesn’t matter what you eat; you’re still going to be hungry on the way to Kol Nidrei.

There are minhagim. Some people eat kreplach on Erev Yom Kippur, which works to give you noodles now, and after your body digests the noodle—surprise! There’s a meatball in there. It’s a time-release food. I think you’re supposed to swallow them whole.

To answer this question, I looked up two things:

1. What to eat before a fast, and

2. Foods that suppress your appetite.

In the first list, it said not to have coffee, chocolate, pickles and spicy foods. In the second list, it said you should have coffee, chocolate, pickles, and spicy foods.

So no one really has any idea.

The best strategy is to think back about which things make you lose your appetite in general. For example, I find that when I’m really stressed, I’m not hungry. So let’s bring that to Yom Kippur!

What is there to be stressed about on Yom Kippur, though? So right before the fast, I get into a huge argument with my wife. Then I walk out the door. Great idea, right? The only issue I can think of is that when my wife is stressed, she eats. Chocolate, which is either good or bad for you, depending on which article you read. But that’s just a small price to pay.

I have to find someone to argue with who also doesn’t eat when they’re stressed.

Call me.

Another thing that probably makes you lose your appetite is eating something that nauseates you. Such as the previous week’s fish heads, which is exactly what I said to begin with. You don’t even have to eat them. Just keep them in a little container all day and sniff them periodically, like besamim. That should help keep your appetite at bay. You can pass it around the shul for other people to smell, too! Don’t tell anyone beforehand that it’s fish heads.

Have a question for “How Should I Know?” The first person to send one in along with a stamp will get—for free!—the rest of my fish head.

Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia and other magazines. He has also published eight books and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].

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