Whether you’re new to a Jewish family or just wanting to brush up on your Yiddish to impress your friends at Kettleman’s Bagel Company, there are a few words you’ll want to know the definition of.

A few of them have to do with our delectable menu items, because we know as well as you do, that ordering food when you’re not sure exactly what you’ll be served is equivalent to thrill seeking for some (not in a good way).

While we were going over our Jewish terminology, it sparked quite a few side conversations, so we thought it would be fun to provide you with more than just food, –although that’s always a great place to start. Our list below is a quick cheat sheet which will allow you to not only toss around some new terms when you come through the doors of Kettleman’s Bagel Company, –but maybe step into character and have a bit of an authentic conversation as well!

Have fun!

The Official Unofficial Yiddish Cheat Sheet

The Schmear – You may have heard this when ordering bagels. Schmear has two meanings, noun and verb.  It can be used when describing the act of applying a cream cheese or spread to a bagel. “Take your knife and schmear the spread.” It can also be used to describe a uniquely made spread from Kettleman’s that is so delicious, it turns into its own term.

KnishA Knish is a delightful pastry or turnover commonly used as party food. These little gems are usually baked, sometimes fried, with a savory filling. At Kettleman’s, our Knishes are always baked and are available with a potato, spinach or pizza filling.

KarnatzelA Karnatzel is a dried, cigar-shaped beef sausage, generally about the width of a nickel and seasoned with garlic, salt, pepper, and herbs. These tiny but flavorful meat treasures are  a part of the history of Montreal and part of our history, here at Kettleman’s.

Lox – If you haven’t had a bagel with cream cheese and lox yet, you haven’t really lived. I can’t stress enough how absolutely perfect of a brunch item this is. So, what is lox? Although the term is often used interchangeably with smoked salmon, the two are completely different. Lox is indeed a salmon fillet, but not the smoked kind. Lox is cured by brining in a solution of water or oil, salt, sugars and mouth watering spices.  It is then thinly sliced and served on a bagel with cream cheese. Add a slice of tomato and a few capers…heaven.

Yiddish Terms to Use While Eating at Kettleman’s Bagel Company

Okay, you’re enjoying your first Karnatzel, and it is truly a wonderful experience. With the atmosphere in Kettleman’s and the food you’ve just experienced, you’re probably feeling like a new form of expression is in order.

Try one of these authentic Yiddish terms on for size:

  • mishpocheh
    Or mishpokhe or mishpucha. It means “family,” as in “Relax, you’re mishpocheh here at Kettleman’s. We will take care of you.”
  • oy vey
    Exclamation of dismay, grief, or exasperation. “Oy vey! It’s almost noon and I haven’t had my Kettleman’s bagel yet!”
  • shmaltzy
    Excessively sentimental, gushing over something in a corny way. “I don’t mean to sound shmaltzy, but this Kernatzel is straight from heaven.”
  • shlimazel
    Someone with constant bad luck. Like the person who rushes to the coffee shop in the rain, only to find out they closed ten minutes ago. Which, by the way, will never happen to you, because Kettleman’s Bagel Company is open 24/7. You should probably let that shlemiel in on your secret.
  • spiel
    A long, involved sales presentation or sales pitch. It actually comes from the German word for play. “Listening to his 45 minute spiel was actually enjoyable with a hot coffee and Kettleman’s bagel to focus my attention on.”

There you have it. Don’t you feel smarter? Next time you’re in Kettleman’s, throw some of these terms our way! Try a new schmear, have a Kernatzel, and don’t forget, you’re mishpocheh here!