Jewish Words



Kishke is a great Ashkenazi delicacy. You can eat it on its own, or use it to beef up the cholent for Shabbat. Its one of those items of Jewish cuisine, like jellied calfs foot (pcha), the origin of which youre probably better off ignorant.

For those who need to know the truth, kishke is cows intestine stuffed with mincemeat, rice, vegetables and flour.

Kishke is Yiddish, but other eastern European languages have a similar word for intestines: kiszka in Polish and kishka in Ukrainian or Russian.

Kishke has entered mainstream American English as a synonym for guts, bearing the connotation of emotional intensity that is popularly associated with Yiddish culture. A funny feeling about it in my kishkes, means that I have an irrational, but frequently reliable intuition.

Oy, that story, it gets me right here in the kishkes usually accompanied by a dramatic slap of the belly means that I have a powerful emotional response to the narrative.

In Israel today, kishke along with pcha, knishes (potato dumplings) and other Eastern European specialities, is almost unobtainable. This is in a country where hummus and felafel, the staples of North African and Middle Eastern cuisine, are available on every street corner.

Much has been said about the continuing cultural dominance of the Ashkenazim over the Sephardim. In culinary matters, however, the people have clearly made their choice.

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