Birthmas: A birthday that falls on or near Christmas (sometimes expanded to the entire month of December). A portmanteau of birthday and Christmas, without the religious overtones of -mas (a shortening of mass, the eucharistic service).
Turketta: An invented word for “turkey prepared porchetta style.” Sometimes spelled turchetta. Porchetta – the word is the feminine diminutive of porco (pig) – is a stuffed and rolled roast of suckling pig; the dish is associated with central Italy and Sardinia.
My October column for the Visual Thesaurus (cross-posted on Vocabulary.com) admires the colorful coinages of autumn, with a close look at fall-ify, a newish verb meaning “to add autumnal touches to something”(décor, clothing, makeup); and the bountiful word-blends created from “October.” Along the way, I navigate the trans-Atlantic autumn/fall divide, the verb-making power of -ify, and the history of Oktoberfest and its many X-toberfest offspring
In the San Francisco Bay Area we have Sharktober (the season of peak shark migration and human-shark encounters); Australia celebrates Frocktober to raise money for ovarian cancer research (the Frocktober Challenge: wear a dress every day in October). Other specialized -tobers include InkTober, which invites artists to create one ink drawing a day for a month; Poptober, a Boy Scouts of America popcorn sale; Socktober, which donates socks to homeless people; Pinktober, a breast-cancer fundraising campaign (and a registered trademark of the Hard Rock entertainment company); Monstober, a Disney Channel games promotion; Overstockober, a month of discounts on the Overstock.com website; and Sicktober, often accompanied by a hashtag symbol and a sad-face emoji.
Sicktober in the wild:
I've almost used an entire roll of Costco toilet paper from blowing my nose. Yes, I lead a glamorous life. #Sicktober
Gefatke: A pancake made of chopped fish and grated potatoes. A portmanteau of gefilte (literally “stuffed”) fish and latke; both words are Yiddish in origin.
“We already have the Cronut, crookie and pretzel croissant,” writes Michele Henry, a staff reporter for the Toronto Star. “Why not the gefatke? Or is it a lafilte?”
Latkes, Henry reminds us, are traditionally eaten at Hanukkah, the eight-day festival of lights that ends this year at sundown December 24. “But, at most other times of the year, we lavish holiday tables with different goodies, including a sort of fish-loaf — shaped into pucks and poached — called gefilte fish. It’s an acquired taste.” (It’s also the perfect substrate for the hottest horseradish you can tolerate.)
Still, this nice Jewish girl thought we’d be remiss, in this age of hybrid foods, not to squash together two of my culture’s most storied dishes, turning gefilte fish and latke into gefatke (or, if you prefer, lafilte).
She enlisted Toronto chef, restaurateur “and member of the tribe” Anthony Rose to realize her vision. Then her Star colleague tweaked it just a bit, adding some Thai fish sauce for a little extra flavor. (Recipe here.)
As a portmanteau, gefatke lacks the recognizability of last year’s Thanksgivukkah. The inclination is to rhyme the stressed second syllable with cat, which suggests an unwelcome (though probably not inaccurate) connection with dietary fat; latke, by contrast, rhymes roughly with plot-keh. (The vowel sound in ke is a schwa.) The alternative, lafilte, is just too Frenchy for this dish.
The recipe, however, sounds delish. If you’re in New York, you may want to make your gefatkes (or whatever you call them) with artisanalgefilte fish from the nicely named Gefilteria. Or you can make your own gefilte fish from this recipe, courtesy of the equally nicely named Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen in San Francisco.
There are no sons named Wise at Wise Sons. The deli takes its name from the “wise son” of the Passover ritual. The Jewish year 5771 translates (approximately, depending on the precise date) to the civil year 2011.
Happy Hanukkah and, as Julia Child would have said in Israel, b’te-avon!