A Carp on Diezengoff St.
On Diezengoff street between Keren Kayemet and Professor Shatz
huddled Dod Naiman’s little shop, drab, unpretentious
between larger modern stores. More kitchen than restaurant
only two items on its menu: boiled carp and draught beer.
To partake of heaven on earth all you needed was to approach
the counter, there from an enormous battered pot, Uncle Naiman
ladled out plump slices of fleshy fish with carrot slices and
wobbling saffron colored jelly, added a half done pickle, a large dollop of red horseradish chrain and then you could help yourself
to three or four two-inch wedges of chala. Regular customers were
sometimes treated to a fish head, eyes and mouth a staring grimace.
We sat at small marble-topped tables, the place was never full
but then it was never empty six days a week - Dod Naiman always
closed at midday on Sabbath eve.
The beer was draught from two brass taps and took several minutes
to dispense as the head of white foam kept filling up the glass
and Naiman had to remove the overflow continually with a wooden
The jelly was more than slightly sweet and sprinkled with black
pepper, thus there was no need to question from where Dod Naiman
had emigrated to Tel Aviv, only from which shtetl in Poland if
you wished to investigate the possibility that your families
might have been acquainted back there.
To my heart’s sorrow, I never asked and now thirty plus years later,
Naiman and kitchen long gone, it hardly matters. But the fragrance of
his simple artistry with fish still lingers when I step along
Diezengoff’s paving stones, the sweet taste of the fish,
the head, the bones.
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© Johnmichael Simon