I really like saying the word kreplach. It’s got all the elements of what I consider to be a good spoken word: the hard, short “K” to start, with that throaty, elongated “ach” to finish, and the gentle “p” in the middle, making the two syllables, when spoken, what I would call a delicious word-meal.
I didn’t really think about kreplach all that often, but now, with such an intense need for diversions from real life, I have found myself thinking of kreplach a lot, even doing some Google research, and I’ve formed some pretty strong (if not always rational) opinions.
If you’ve read any of my columns for the Forward, you’ll know I’m Jewish, heavy on the ish. I’m a food-focused, slang-appreciating, using-the-high-holidays-as-an-excuse-to-not-do-things kind of Jew. I’m also a fairly modern thinker. I believe in mashing cultural food traditions together to create something new. I believe cultures need to adapt to survive, while maintain their traditions. I believe we should be performing operas written in the 20th and 21st centuries. Oops. Sorry. Different article.
Anyway, my point is this: I believe in change, but not when it comes to certain Jewish foods. It’s purely emotion-based, and I should probably go to therapy to figure it out. (But I won’t. Instead, I’ll just eat my feelings in the form of an entire box of chocolate macaroons.) Anyway, I was curious to see if kreplach had gone the way of the bagel — bastardized to the point of nonrecognition. (Blueberries? Rainbows?)
I turned to my friend, The Google Search Box. I was super- and very pleasantly surprised to see that most of the recipes popping up were acceptable by Naomi Major’s Traditional Standards.
Among other regulations: I don’t accept that cheese kreplach is actual kreplach, because when you mix dough and cheese it’s called a danish. I will not accept chicken-stuffed kreplach as kreplach, because that’s called a dumpling. Meat. Kreplach is about the meat!
I believe in meat- (preferably leftover brisket) filled kreplach. I believe the dough should be paper thin. I believe that my father’s joke (see below), told throughout my childhood, is still relevant today.
And now I turn to you, Forward readers:
What’s the worst excuse for a kreplach you’ve ever had or seen? Send us a message and let us know.
My Dad’s Joke
Little Johnnie is with his bubbe in the kitchen. Bubbe has laid out a dozen small, paper-thin triangles of dough.
Bubbe: Doesn’t the dough look good Johnnie?
Johnnie: “Yes it does!”
Bubbe takes a dollop of meat and puts it in the center of one of the triangles.
Bubbe: And doesn’t it look good now Johnnie?
Johnnie: “Yes Bubbe it does.”
Bubbe folds one corner over.
Bubbe: Still looks good?
Bubbe folds a second corner.
Bubbe: And now?
Johnnie: Still looks good.
Bubbe folds over the third corner, and a horrified Johnnie exclaims, “Ick! Kreplach.”
Naomi Major is a writer living in the Inwood neighborhood of Manhattan. You can find more of her writing at www.NaomiMajor.com