by Don  

If you look up the word котлета in some Russian-English dictionaries, you will find the word cutlet as a translation. If you do, take your black pen and cross that line of the dictionary out. In modern American English a cutlet is a piece of meat, but it is NEVER ground meat.¹ In Russian котлета means a patty of ground meat.

You can have all sorts of ground meat patties, of course, from all sorts of animals:

котлеты из говядины hamburger patties
lit. patties of beef
котлеты из курицы chicken patties
lit. patties of chicken
котлеты из рыбы fish patties²
lit. patties of fish

Ground meat patties are very common in Russian cafeterias and on the table in Russian homes. Here are some sample sentences:

— На каком масле лучше жарить котлеты?
— Если мясо достаточно жирное, то не нужно никакого масла.
“What kind of oil is it best to fry meat patties in?”
“If the meat is fatty enough, you don't need any oil.”
Мама всегда добавляет чеснок, лук, соль и перец в фарш для котлет. Mom always addes garlic, onion, salt and pepper to ground meat patties.
— Ты любишь котлеты?
— Нет, я мясо не ем.
— А рыбные котлеты?
— Ну, да, против рыбных котлет я ничего не имею.
“Do you like ground [meat] patties?”
“No, I don't eat meat.”
“What if they are made from fish?”
“Well, yes, I don't have anything against fish patties.”
— Я сделал американский сэндвич из говяжей котлеты и двух тостов.
— Какой ты невежда. Это называется «гамбургер».
“I made an American sandwich with a beef patty and two pieces of toasted bread.”
“You are such an ignoramus. That's called a ‘hamburger’.”

¹ If you look at certain dictionaries, e.g. the current definition of cutlet at dictionary.com (mirror) includes something like “a flat croquette.” That is not a current meaning of the word in the US.

² Although “fish patties” is a perfectly grammatical phrase in English, I don't think I've ever had a fish patty in the US in my entire life. The phrase sounds bizarre to the average American ear.


Comment from: Jen [Visitor]

I’m with Jay. I’m from the midwest and fish patty is a perfectly legitimate phrase. Although I know McDonald’s sells a “Fillet-O-Fish” sandwich, I’d refer to it as a fish patty rather than a filet probably. Filet is something that you do to a fish, or possibly eat on its own, not something you put on a sandwich.

09/17/10 @ 09:57
Comment from: Alexiel [Visitor]

It’s not only of ground meat. If you want to cook a patties, you should take ground meat and white bread mix them.

09/14/10 @ 23:08
Comment from: Jay Slater [Visitor]

Chalk it up to regional differences. I’m from the northeastern US, and I’ve had salmon patties–ground salmon, in patty shape–more times than I can count.

I’ve also occasionally heard ‘patty’ used for a fish filet, if we’re intending to use the filet on a sandwich.

09/14/10 @ 09:36
Comment from: Christopher Stone [Visitor]  

In my second edition of Katzner’s dictionary, they list “fish cakes” rather than “fish patties", which seems like a more common use of the same concept–certainly, Seattle had its fair share of fish and crab cakes :)

09/14/10 @ 00:56

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