Knedlíky Terminology for the Colossal Knedlíky!
◾ knedlíky – dumpling staple of Bohemia and the Czech Republic, plural
◾ knedl – singular form of knedlíky
◾ ovocné knedlíky – fruit dumpling
◾ plněné knedlíky – stuffed dumpling
◾ švestkové knedlíky – plum dumpling
◾ meruňkové knedlíky – apricot dumpling
◾ jahodové knedlíky – strawberry dumpling
◾ houskove knedlíky – bread dumpling
◾ bramborove knedlíky – potato dumpling
◾ syrove knedlíky – cheese dumpling
◾ jatrov knedlíky – liver dumpling
◾ pflaumen en schlaffrok – German, “plum in nightgown’
◾ knödel – german term for dumpling
◾ kynute – yeast
◾ knaidel – term for dumpling among Ashkenazic Jews in Central Europe
Knedliky comes from the Teutonic knodel, meaning ‘knot.’ Knedliky is now in general use as the generic term for any member of the dumpling family in the Czech Republic. In Germany, the fruit-filled variety is called pflaumen en schlaffrok, which translates to plums in nightgowns. However, the most typical name for this type of dumpling throughout Jewish communities across Europe is knaidel or knaidlach.
The knedlíky dumpling originated with the spread of Ashkenazim, as this sect of the Jewish faith loved and relied on the dumpling in its most basic forms as a dietary staple. Therefore, the dumpling’s prevalence throughout Eastern and Central Europe can largely be attributed to the migration of Ashkenazic Jewish populations. This occurred during the twelfth century specifically in 1394, when the Jews were expelled from homes in Central Europe (namely France) by the Albigensian Crusade, during which many Jews migrated to Germany and were introduced to Yiddish culture.
The most ancient origins of stuffed knedlíky were bread dumplings, which allowed cooks to transform leftover bread loaves into nutritious, savory meals. It was initially featured as an aspect of the Shabbas cholent, in which a ball of savory bread batter with egg as binder was dropped into the center of the stew; the dumpling developed a rich flavor and texture as it simmered with the cooking cholent overnight. The dumpling would be served warm at lunch the next day after Shabbas services. Franco-German Ashkenazic cooks began to add onions, gribenes or (if wealthy) spices to the bread batter balls.
The place of origin of knedlíky as we know it today is Bohemia, a section of the Czech Republic and the former Czechoslovakia. Knedlíky which still has deep cultural roots in the cuisine of the Czech Republic.
By the twelfth century, the concept of the dumpling had spread into Bohemia/Czechoslovakia, where it received the name knodel, and knedliky as it is known today took shape. From there, the food and name traveled to Germany, Austria, France as well as eastward into the Slavic regions
That said, there’s no question now, that knedlíky have their place in Czech culture, as well as restaurants and cafeterias. All Czechs know, for example, the expression “four or six” – čtyři nebo šest. Lubomír Maršík explains:
“‘Four or six’ is what some people get asked when they are in line in a cafeteria, being served a meal with dumplings. It is regular to be given four with a dish, but sometimes the person serving you gives you a once-over and estimates that you’re a six-knedlíky man. Someone with the room and appetite for a bigger meal!”
Of course, you want to be careful: Czech dumplings are filling and heavy on calories: eat too many, you may end up being called a “knedlík” yourself.
“It’s true it is also a derogatory expression which was used back in school – when somebody was a bit on the heavier side – people would tease them for being a knedlík – a dumpling.”
Essentially there are three kinds: two that go with meat dishes and one that is stand-alone. First, bread dumplings (houskové knedlíky) which are light and fluffy, potato dumplings (bramborové knedlíky) which are heavier but very tasty, and ovocné knedlíky – sweet dumplings filled with fruit (plums or strawberries) and sometimes also jam.