The Saga Of Hillary Clinton's Gefilte Fish

Of the 4,000-plus Hillary Clinton emails released Monday night, perhaps the most confusing was about, of all things, seafood. On the morning of Friday, March 5, 2010, Clinton sent a brief email to staffers Richard Verma and Jake Sullivan with the subject line: "Gefilte fish." The email simply read, "Where are we on this?" The Hillary Clinton gefilte fish mystery baffled those who stayed up Monday night to read the second released batch of emails: Why does the Secretary of State want a status report on a kind of seafood?

Firstly, let's look at gefilte fish itself. It's a Jewish dish derived from ground fish, and it looks a bit like fish balls. And why, you ask, was 2010 Clinton so very concerned about it? Well, Tablet's Yair Rosenberg cleared up the mystery by referencing the June memoir by ex-Israeli ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren. In the passage, Oren is pretty concerned about a particular shipment of carp that didn't meet Israel's free trade standards and thus wasn't allowed into Israel. So, of course, Clinton stepped in. Meanwhile, recently re-appointed prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Oren; Clinton joked about the incident at a press event; the hold-up become a minor international crisis.

Finally, the carp made it into Israel. As Oren describes in his memoir, when asked about why on earth carp was at the heart of a diplomatic relations incident, he explained that Passover was coming, and that — you guessed it — gefilte fish is often made from carp.

It's a perfectly reasonable explanation, but it's also a little disappointing. Because we all wanted to believe that among Clinton's vices, like skim milk and The Good Wife , was a very particular Jewish appetizer — and that, perhaps running low on her gefilte fish supplies, Clinton decided to investigate before the situation became seriously dire. "Bill!" I like to imagine her yelling, shortly before tapping out that email. "Don't freak out, but we're nearly out of gefilte fish!"

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