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Bri_L's avatar

Fidler on the Roof - What is with the spitting?

Asked by Bri_L (12171points) April 13th, 2008

I just finished watching Fiddler on the Roof, great movie by the way, and there was a lot of spitting. People holding two fingers up and spitting twice, or just turning their heads and spitting towards the graound. Thanks for the help.

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20 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

And old Jewish superstition thought to ward off the Evil Eye or bad luck.

Mtl_zack's avatar

its a jewish superstition that if you spit a certain amount of times, it bad luck (or good luck, depending where you are and how many spits), to the place where you spit.

srmorgan's avatar

my grandmother used to spit three times but you have to say poo, poo, poo otherwise it did not work

SRM

Bri_L's avatar

Thanks all! I have always wondered and its one of those questions I never felt that safe asking without worrying about offending someone. Yeay fluther.

gailcalled's avatar

Mtl zack is right. I never knew about the good luck before. Thanks.
You spit through the V of first and second fingers in several ways – one for bad luck and one for good. Steve, was your grandmother warding off the Evil Eye or something else? spitting

“Although there are countless superstitions relating to the evil eye, they are all as significant as the other: reciting ‘kein ayin hora’ which roughly translated means ‘may the evil eye stay away’; spitting three times on one’s finger tips and each time make a quick movement with one’s hand in the air:”

gailcalled's avatar

Differentiating between “offensive” and “reasonable”’ is much more related to language, attitude, and intent than subject matter. (See Chuck Norris – or, please, don’t.)

srmorgan's avatar

Do I remember this specifically? No.
My grandparents and my mother used “kina hora“all the time warding off the evil eye.
The spitting was for something else , maybe I will have too ask my sister.

SRM

gailcalled's avatar

Yes, mine too. “Kina hora” with a gesture – altho I never remember my grandmothers spitting. However, one of my grandmothers told my little brother (7 years old) that if he buried a piece of raw bacon in the backyard on the night of the full moon, the wart on his hand would disappear.He did and it did.

srmorgan's avatar

your grandmother allowed bacon in the house!!!! Even in the backyard! Treyf!

Now I am thinking that my paternal grandmother did the spitting but she was born in England, not Eastern Europe, as were her mother and her grandmother and her great-grandmother and I don’t envision her as being the superstitious type. I was 12 when she died and the memories fade. I was 49 when my maternal grandmother died, that was ten years ago this coming June.

gailcalled's avatar

I never thought of that until now! She cooked “Jewish”- tsimmis, kugel, brisket, tongue (ugh), chopped liver and herring, matzoh ball soup, but wasn’t kosher. And the bacon ceremony was done at our house-not hers. We were suburban Larchmonters, remember, and the fact that my mother could cook at all was a miracle. Funny memories.

Is your sister older? Ask her about these memories. As we both know, they are wonderful to have and can be lost so easily..

Mtl_zack's avatar

jewish food is the best food. matzah ball soup, brisket, gefilteh fish (what is a gefilteh anyways, ive never seen one alive, only in those white rolls), cheap sweet wine, kugel, etc… i never really liked borsht or liver though.

gailcalled's avatar

@Mtl- I was ready for a good laugh. Thanks

Gefiltehs are probably overfished anyway ( it is a collection of various ground white fish that the fishmongers in Jewish neighborhoods used to prepare for Passover. They would do all the prep, including cooking.)

I agree w. you about liver, and tongue and sweet Passover wine. Cold borsht w. sour cream and chives is nice in summer.

srmorgan's avatar

There is a story attributed to Marilyn Monroe that may or may not be true.

After her marriage to playwright Arthur Miller, she was invited to her first Passover Seder at Mother Miller’s apartment on Ocean Parkway.
The first course, of course, was Matzoh ball soup and once it was served to her she is supposed to have remarked: How big is this Matzoh thing, his balls are enormous.

True, I don’t know. Plausible, hardly, Funny, yes.

SRM

gailcalled's avatar

Funny, nu?

susanc's avatar

Doesn’t “Gefilteh” just mean “filled” or “stuffed” or “relleno” or “estofado”? – the fish is mixed up with some kind of fillingy stuff, right?
Your friend,
Not Jewish But Interested In Food and Language

srmorgan's avatar

@susanc—yes, a literal translation would be filled or stuffed, but the actual dish is prepared by grinding one or more kinds of fish, carp and pike are the usual suspects and then cooking the fish in a broth. It is more akin to a French preparation called a “Quenelle” than anything else. Some people like the broth, jelled and served with the fish. My grandmother used to put carrots in the broth and then serve the carrots minced on top of the fish.

It is not stuffed as in stuffed cabbage or grape leaves and it is not sausage-like as a boudin would be.

SRM

susanc's avatar

Sounds yummy, except maybe for the jelly part. I don’t think Americans like me
appreciate salty jellies enough. Quenelles are so nice but I don’t remember any
jelly part. Ew: jelly. Srmorgan, did you eat that jelly? Did you like it? Eek, jelly.

srmorgan's avatar

@susanc.

I was not a fan of the jelly until I reached adulthood, and even then, only in small quantities.

As I think about it, the classic French dish is Quenelles de Brochet, and Brochet translates to pike so the dishes are even more closely related.

One feature of serving Gefilte fish is that it is usually accompanied by grated horseradish. In our house it was always the red horseradish, mixed with beets that came in a little jar. Was the brand Gold’s? It was a necessary accompaniment because although the fish has its own distinct almost sweet flavor, it is a little bland and the horseradish gives it a little kick.

I know that our local supermarkets carry gefilte fish in jars, but I don’t know about the horseradish. I will have to ask my wife to look if she shops tomorrow. I don’t exactly live in a hotbed of Judaism so you never know what you are going to find in the ethnic aisle of the supermarket.

SRM

susanc's avatar

The ethnic aisle, my favorite.

But we digress.

gailcalled's avatar

In my family, we never ate any meat, fowl, or fish without a condiment. Mint jelly, mustard, cranberry sauce, tartar sauce, horseradish, ketchup. I saw naked meat for the first time when I went off to college.

NPR last night at 7:30 showed “The Gefilte Fish Chronicles.” Deserves an Oscar for short documentary. Everyone shouting at once (More salt, NO-less salt) and the ancient fish grinder breaks down. After another shouting match they buy a new one and can’t figure out how to assemble it. (Meanwhile, all manicures and hairdos are impeccable.) There was also dueling Cholent; one in the oven and the other on stove top.

Sisters Sophie Patasnik, Peppy Barer and Rosie Groman spend six weeks preparing for a seder meal made from scratch, with a menu that includes gefilte fish, cholent, horseradish and sponge cake.

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