Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Many moons have passed since the first telling of the story of Atlantis.  How many moons?  Well, enough to make it time for the sequel!  Grandpa is back to tell the story of the origin of gefilte fish.  Bon appétit!

“Ready for another bedtime story, kids?” asked Grandpa Sam.
“Yes, please!” said Susie.
“I love your stories,” added Billy.
“Do you remember Atlantis?  Do you remember the horrible Carp Diem disaster?  Well, I’m going to bring you back long before that awful occurrence.  Way back to the invention of the gefilte fish.
The gefilte is a holy fish.  The triumvirate of swimming species.  The trifecta of aqueous animals.  The trinity of deep-water dwellers.  But it did not always exist.  No, like all unnaturally occurring animals, it had to be created.”
“People make animals?  That’s weird,” interjected Susie.
“Yes, it is.  Well, the Atlanteans were masters of fish.  They could take sea creatures, expertly farm them, and successfully have them mate to form new, more useful species.  This last activity was frowned upon by some, especially the Dolphins of nearby Dolphintropolis, but the Atlanteans continued their species manufacturing.  They had a goal, and they were not going to let diplomatic relations hinder their progress.  What was their goal?  To create the best tasting and most nutritious fish that ever swam the seven seas, four oceans, and hundreds of straits, canals, and fjords.
First came the carp.  This was an easy choice for the Atlantean scientists, since it was already viewed as a sacred fish.  But why not make it holier?  It was easily farmed, so they had plenty of it.  A good thing, since it was loved for its succulent, moist taste.  Actually, that’s how Atlanteans thought all fish tasted—boy, did they love fish—but nevertheless, they believed carp was the most succulent and moist tasting of them all.
Next came the pike.  The Atlanteans were a warring nation, which was necessary to protect their city from fierce sea monsters, who claimed the sunken city inhabitants had taken their land, cut down the kelp forests, and were raising the temperature of the water just by being there.  None of which were true, of course.  But digressions aside, the people of Atlantis viewed the pike as the symbol of war.  This was not a clever association; it was more of a literal connection based on the shared name between their weapon of choice and the fish.  They determined that the pike would join the carp in creating a new fish due to its fierceness.  Not to mention it was succulent and moist.
The third and final fish that would be part of their creation was the whitefish.  Their choosing of this fish was actually more of an accident.  They planned to use the mahi-mahi for its exotic appeal, but an exceptionally hungry scientist ate the Atlanteans’ last mahi-mahi by mistake.  Well, the scientist said it was an accident, but we all know that was a lie.”
“Why’d he tell a lie, Grandpa?  I thought lies were bad,” said Susie.
“Lies are bad.  Always tell the truth.  Anyway, the scientists had to pick a new fish to donate its genetic code to the gefilte.  They couldn’t waste any time, since the King of Atlantis expected their creation to be completed in time for that year’s Carp Diem, which was in three days.  So the scientists used what was on hand:  the whitefish.  The whitefish is the most common animal for testing in Atlantis.  Kind of like rats for us.”
“What do we use rats for, Grandpa?” asked Susie.
“For solving mazes and word scrambles that are too difficult for humans,” replied Grandpa Sam quickly.
“And crosswords,” chimed in Billy.
“That’s right.  So the most skilled scientists of Atlantis added the whitefish to the pike and carp.  Now, usually when they create a new species, they just mate the original fish.  However, because this new fish was to be the best ever and they had decided to use three fish, the scientists had to do something called genetic engineering.  It’s science.”
“Grandpa, what’s science?” asked Billy.
“Oh, just something made up by a bunch of wild lunatics.  It’s not real.  That’s why I can talk about it in this story.  As the fish’s DNA was mixing, the scientists realized they needed a name for the new best fish.  They went through various options:  hsif, best-fish-ever, trout, Atlantis fish.  None of the proposed names felt right.  Suddenly, one scientist sneezed loudly.  ‘Gefilte,’ said another.  ‘You mean gesundheit,’ replied the first.  ‘No, I mean gefilte.  It’s the perfect name for our fish creation!’ said the other.  The scientists looked at each other, deep in thought.  Then they smiled.  They had the name for their new fish.
After making the gefilte’s genetic code, incubating the cells, and transplanting them in Petri dishes, one for each fish, the scientists left them to grow.  On the third day, which was Carp Diem, the scientists went to their lab to check on the gefilte fish.  They had orders from the King to pick one fish to present to the city.  After observing their specimens, they picked a particularly large one.  They could only fantasize about its succulent and moist taste.
After the sacrifice of the First Carp, the King of Atlantis called upon the head scientist to present his new fish to the people.  He proudly raised the gefilte above his head, letting everyone gaze at this beautiful fish.  A gasp emanated from the crowd as they took in its wonder.  The scientist lowered the fish and handed it to the King.
With one swift, royal motion, the King cut and killed the gefilte.  He brought it up to his nose, taking in its savory smell.  Then he took a bite.  It was succulent.  It was moist.  It was the best tasting fish there had ever been.  The King smiled broadly and, in his booming royal voice, declared the gefilte the holy fish of Atlantis.
Every Atlantean was soon demanding the gefilte in bulk.  They had heard it was the tastiest fish in existence, and that as a bonus it was nutritious, too.  The scientists had their work cut out for them.  The gefilte could breed, but it was too slow to meet demand.  Therefore, they had to artificially produce enough fish to make up for the deficiency in the supply.
But no matter how many fish were created or born, the people of Atlantis just demanded more.  They could never have enough of this amazing fish.  Soon, the supply of gefilte was diminishing.  The scientists, with the King’s incessant urging, tried breeding them in more efficient ways, but it was to no avail.  Within five months, the gefilte was in danger of becoming extinct.
Sure enough, by the following year’s Carp Diem, the gefilte had died off.  The scientists tried to recreate their fish, but they never could duplicate their original success.  Now this should not come as a surprise to us, children.”
“Why, Grandpa?” asked Susie curiously.
“Well, Susie, because genetically engineered species never survive.  It’s a fact of life.
Now, you might be wondering how we still have gefilte fish today.  To honor this holy, extinct species, the people of the world have been recreating the gefilte.  It’s never perfect, but they try their best to honor the best tasting fish of the sea.
And that, my wonderful grandchildren, is the story of the gefilte fish and its creators in Atlantis.”
“That was great, Grandpa!” exclaimed Susie.
“Yeah!  It was even better than your last story,” added Billy.
“Thanks, children.  Whenever you want a tale, you know who to ask.”

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