by Don  

Sometimes a word just sounds so funny that you laugh out loud the first time you hear it, and one of those words for me was фрикаделька, which means meatball. Why is it funny? I suppose it reminds me of words like roley-poley or higgledy-piggledy. In fact when I first heard it, I was sure it must have come from some kind of child's poem. I was wrong. Fasmer says that it was borrowed from German Frikadelle or French fricadelle, which originally came from Italian frittadella, meaning "fried in a pan." Despite the fact that the word in Italian meant 'fried,' фрикадельки in Russia aren't fried in a pan, but rather boiled in some kind of broth. Here's how it declines:


Although you usually encounter the word in the plural, it is also possible to find it in the singular. There is also a non-diminutive form фрикадель, although I haven't heard it in common speech.

Фрикадельки can be made of the flesh of pretty well any animal. When you are specifying what kind of meatballs they are, usually you use the preposition из followed by the genitive case of the type of meat. The four types I have encountered most often this summer are listed below. (I'll explain why I added Google hits in a moment.)

Google hits
chickenфрикадельки из курицы59,200
beefфрикадельки из говядины37,600
fishфрикадельки из рыбы38,400
porkфрикадельки из свинины21,100

Sometimes you also hear the word фрикадельки preceded by an adjective to indicate the type of meat. I was curious which construction was more common, so I ran a Google hit comparison (2010-07-18) to determine that. Making grammatical judgments by a Google hit count is not a reliable way to understand the intricacies of grammar, but for what it's worth, it looks like the «из» construction is more common than the adjectival construction:

Google hits
chickenкуриные фрикадельки11,500
beefговяжьи фрикадельки1,440
fishрыбные фрикадельки20,800
porkсвиные фрикадельки2,070

My favorite фрикадельки at the moment are the курино-говяжьи фрикадельки 'chicken and beef meatballs' served at the Трали-Вали dining room at ТГГПУ. Oddly enough, I don't get any hits on that phrase at all on Google, so perhaps they are a newer type of фрикадельки.

Here are some sample sentences with the word фрикадельки:

Я вчера сделала двести фрикаделек из говяжьего фарша. Yesterday I made two hundred ground beef meatballs.
— Какой у нас суп сегодня?
— Рассольник с фрикадельками.
— Правда? Дайте две порции. Я рассольник обожаю.
"What soup do we have today?"
"Pickle soup with meatballs."
"Really? Two servings, please. I adore pickle soup."
На гарнир к фрикаделькам можно подать картофель, рассыпчатый рис, кашу, макаронные изделия, отварные овощи, салат из сырых овощей. (adapted from this source) As a side dish for meatballs you can serve potatoes, rice, boiled grain dishes, pasta, boiled vegetables, or a raw vegetable salad.
Мексиканские повары приготовили самую большую фрикадельку в мире весом почти 50 килограммов. (adapted from this source) Mexican chefs have made the world's largest meatball, weighing nearly 50 kilos.


Comment from: Erica Resmer [Visitor]

AHAHAHA!! Omg I love this word!! So odd of a word for a ball of meat it just has to be shared. I just started a new job and they found out I speak Russian, so I get to do a Russian word of the day in my training class! I am sooo going to use this tomorrow :)

07/22/10 @ 02:27
Comment from: Bruce Custode [Visitor]  

Is it pronounced freak-a-delki? I am beginning Russian so forgive my ignorance.

Don responds: You’ve got it right!

07/20/10 @ 22:25

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