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

spatula.

 

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

2006

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