One of the words in the Scripps National Spelling Bee 2016 (Guardian liveblog) was chremslach, the plural of chremsel; your curiosity about what the word represents can be satisfied by this lively Haaretz column by Liz Steinberg (thanks, Paul!): “Admittedly not the most common of Jewish foods, chremslach are flat, fried fritters made by some Ashkenazi Jews for Passover or Hanukkah.” But what if you’re curious about where the word is from? It’s not in the OED, NOAD, or M-W Collegiate; Webster’s Third New International has it (which is why it was eligible for the spelling bee), but the etymology given there is just “Yiddish chremzel.” Well, yes, it practically screams “Yiddish,” but where is the Yiddish word from? So I did a little digging in Google Books and found this on p. 393 of Alexander Beider‘s Origins of Yiddish Dialects: “Influence of French is also quite likely in AlsY frimzl and SwY fremzl ‘noodle’/EY khremzl ‘Passover pancake.'” The relevant footnote reads:
[…] This word is related in some way to Italian vermicelli though the immediate etymon for the WY word is uncertain. Starting with Kosover (1958:63), several authors wrote about the link between the WY frimzl and the Old French word that in turn was loaned from Italian. However, no linguistic argument corroborating this hypothesis was ever suggested, while the proposed French etymon is actually anachronistic. In French, the earliest reference to a word derived from vermicelli dates from the sixteenth century only (Wexler 1992:54). Looking into the early Jewish references collected by Kosover (1958:61–5), one can observe the existence of two series: (1) with the initial gimel […], the oldest date from the twelfth century; (2) with the initial vav or double-vav […], mainly present in sources from western Germany of the twelfth to fifteenth centuries, but also known in Normandy in the thirteenth century. The first series is clearly of French origin. It was in certain Romance dialects in the territory of France that Germanic (Frankish) initial /w/ gave rise to /gw/ that later turned into /g/. The last process ended in Old French during the twelfth century. […] The second series (to which WY frimzl is related) may also be of French origin. Indeed, Frankish /w/ remained unchanged in northern (Wallony, Picardy) and eastern (Lorraine) dialects. […] Both series have two idiosyncrasies in common: (a) the letter zayen /z/ for what was “c” in Italian; (b) the introduction of a vowel between /r/ and /m/, most likely as a result of the metathesis between the first vowel and the second (liquid) consonant. Such characteristics could not appear independently. Either both series had the same ancestor that already possessed these features, or one of these series influenced another. The feature (a) is typical for France only. It is regularly found in French and Occitan: compare modern French plaisir “pleasure’ < Latin placere, oiseau ‘bird’ < aucellus (Bourciez 1921:153–4). For the feature (b), a close parallel can be found in French fromage ‘cheese’ whose initial sounds underwent in Old French the change from /furm-/ to /frum-/ (Pope 1934:178).
So there you have it: chremslach is related in some way to vermicelli, though the details are frustratingly unclear. Me, I’ll stick to latkes.