When my siblings and I were little, my mom used to grab our chubby arms and pretend to munch on them. She would take a few “bites” then tell us it needed some salt, and maybe some pepper too. Then proceed to munch a bit more. We loved this game and it always resulted in us erupting into giggles at her antics.
I’ve noticed during the past year the frequency which Jews (in particular) love to call my daughter ‘delicious,’ and I must confess that I am guilty of using this phrase to describe adorable children as well. Jews also use the Yiddish word “pulkies” to describe my daughter’s chunky (adorable) thighs, which is always said with tremendous affection. I only wish someone would describe my chunky thighs as adorable and edible. I am still waiting. But I digress.
But how did it come about to equate cuteness with edible-ness? In the case of the Jewish use of “pulkies,” which also means chicken legs, there is clearly a direct link between food and adorableness. Jews love food (doesn’t everyone!?), Jews love babies. I guess it makes sense. Thesaurus.com even has an entry for delicious, stating the synonyms for delicious as “cute; loveable.” Well babies are definitely those things, or at least, most of the time.
I am hardly the first person who has posed this oh-so-important question relating to babies and the etymology of adorable edibleness. In fact, this dad writes not that it is a Jewish phenomena, but that is a way women one-up one another in describing just how cute a child is. There’s also an actual scientific phenomena called “cute aggression,” but I am not gonna touch that concept.
By saying that a child is so cute that we want to eat them, or taste them, we are really paying tasty food the highest compliment: there is nothing better than eating something yummy. I guess a close second is cute baby.
I would still love to know if there is any actual Yiddish connection to describing children as ‘delicious,’ so if you know of one please comment below and let us know!
In the meantime, happy baby nibbling. But not really (we hope)!
Yiddish is a difficult language to translate, yet there are endless attempts at expressing these indefinite words that have happily snuck into every day American speak. Nosh is perhaps one of the most commonly heard, yet how can you really describe this term? One definition declares, “nosh: to eat.” Simple enough, but for me it simply doesn’t capture the essence of nosh. The definition goes on: compare to German nashen, to nibble. That seems a bit closer to home. Urban Dictionary defines nosh: “to snack on.”
So what is a ‘nosher’?
I have vivid memories when I was younger of my Uncle Barry, who always kept a snack close at hand – in the car, in his office, in his gym bag – wherever. My grandma Phoebe (think Fran Drescher’s mother from The Nanny meets George Costanza’s mother) would remark about her eldest son, “your Uncle Barry – he’s such a naaaaasher!” And while it might sound like a disparaging remark, indeed, it was said with considerable love, and almost respect, for his affection for snacking.
But a love of nosh goes beyond Yiddish definitions, and beyond mere nibbles or snacks. ‘To nosh’ is about a love of food, keeping food close at hand, and a Jewish connection.
So stay tuned for noshing news, recipe ideas and hopefully a connection to your love of food and love of Jews.