Thursday, November 10, 2005

Lots of hymns and just a little pasta



A sakh zmires un veynik lokshn (Lots of hymns and just a little pasta) is a Yiddish expression meaning great effort expended for a disappointing result—a long run for a short slide. Zmires are the para-liturgical hymns sung at festive meals, and lokshn (noodles) are especially associated with the Sabbath in Ashkenazic tradition.

For much more on lokshn in the Yiddish language and Jewish life see the hilarious dialogue Lokshnby the eternally amazing Noyekh Prilutski. Yet more on lokshn, including a Romanized version of Prilutski’s “Lokshn” can be found in The Mendele Review Special Lokshn Issue, parts one and two. Have a look at A. Almi’s poem about Prilutski while you're there.

I’ve added a couple of sidebar categories to make it easier to find previous posts. More zmires are coming soon to “A sakh zmires un veynik lokshn” which I’ll give the English title “Sacred songs for the welcome table

I've taken some of the sidebar titles from John Evelyn’s Acetaria: a discourse of sallets. I really like that he has a chapter called “Of composts, and stercoration, repastination, dressing and stirring of the earth and mould of a garden” (all punctuation is in the original), so I’ve used this for my compost entry, even though I have no immediate plans to write any further about compost. For the Yiddish title of this category I used the saying “emes vakst fun der erd aroys” “The truth grows out of the earth.”

I had to look up stercoration (the action or act of manuring with dung) and repastination (the action or process of digging over again).

In Jewish practice, when you first taste a new kind of fruit or vegetable, or taste it again for the first time in a new season, the blessing “Shehekheyonu ve kiyemonu” (“who has kept us alive and sustained us”) expresses thanksgiving for having remained alive to experience this time. Think of those first crunchy apples in the fall. These words, along with John Evelyn’s “A garden deriv'd and defin'd; its dignity, distinction and sorts” are the titles for the category of posts about the delights and curiosities of the plant world.

Evelyn, John, and Howard Coppuck Levis. Acetaria. A Discourse of Sallets. The 2d ed. London,: B. Tooke, 1706.

Prilutski, Noah. Dos Gevet: Dialogen Vegn Shprakh Un Kultur. Varsha: Kultur lige, 1923.

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