Recently I was loitering in the packaged fish section of the gourmet supermarket near my home, Fairway, when I encountered something called “Smoked Spiritual Salmon.” I rolled my eyes. There are a lot of calcified hippies living in my neighborhood, so I thought I’d seen it all, but not this. Nevertheless, I needed to know what made this smoked salmon “spiritual”: suppose it had healing properties?
I looked at the package label. It read:
“Made in Mamaroneck, New York.”
Ha-ha, the “affluent” suburbs. Westchester County is so rich that I once read it has one of the highest per-capita incomes in the country. That’s where Hillary and Bill reside.
Not exactly Lourdes.
I asked a couple of employees if they knew anything about the “spiritual salmon,” but none of them had a clue. Finally, I was told to ask at the smoked fish counter. I put the question to a clerk, who referred it to his manager. Then the clerk told me:
“There is just a type of fish called “Spiritual Salmon.”
So I replied:
“Well, I understand that, but I still need to know what it is it about this fish that makes it “spiritual??”
(I imagined the salmon sitting in a lotus position, meditating. Or wrapped in a tallis, davening.)
But it was hopeless. It dawned on me that the foreign-born clerk didn’t even know the meaning of the word “spiritual.”
Anyway, this dialogue was repeated a number of times like something out of a comedy routine. Finally, I was made to understand that “Spiritual Salmon” is just the generic name of a variety of salmon.
I didn’t like the clerk’s attitude, so I told him in a loud voice:
“I was only asking about this for health reasons. My husband has cancer.”
The clerk didn’t seem at all penitent, but the line in front of me miraculously dissolved. (“Cancer Card” works like a charm, doesn’t it?)
As soon as I got home I googled “spiritual salmon” and I found an article telling me that the Native Americans considered salmon to be the holiest food of all. The only other information I came across was at recalls.org. It said that the “Spiritual Salmon” made by this company had been recalled because it contained a serious toxin.
Later on, I told dear husband about my frustration at the market. All he said was:
“As usual, you’re being too hard on yourself. You’re not expected to know everything about smoked fish. After all, you’re not a “loxsmith.”