"Seventh water on jelly" is a figurative expression usually used to denote the nature of family relationships between people. However, this turnover has a distinct culinary origin.
"The seventh water on jelly" is a metaphorical statement used if the speaker wants to emphasize the distant nature of family ties between the people in question.
Origin of the term
Kissel is a traditional Russian dish, which was originally prepared on the basis of oat flour. The result was a thick, gelatinous mass, which was often used as the main dish in a peasant meal, since it was satisfying enough and did not require large material costs: oats were available in sufficient quantities even in the poorest families.
Since kissel in such a family was usually supposed to feed a large number of eaters, it was most often prepared in significant quantities, due to which the jelly would simply stand for a certain period of time, waiting for consumption. If this period of time turned out to be long enough, a layer of liquid with a lower density appeared above the main dense mass of jelly, which was actually close to ordinary water.
The water that appeared in the process of such settling only remotely resembled jelly in taste, so it was customary to drain it. However, if the dish continued to stand, water usually reappeared. At the same time, the second, third and subsequent portions of this liquid had in their taste less and less in common with the original dish. It was from here that the expression "Seventh water on jelly" came from - that is, a substance that very little resembles the original source.
It was customary to call this water the seventh not because of its special taste, but because of the tendency to this number, which is also manifested in other Russian proverbs and sayings, for example, "Seven spans in the forehead", "Seven nannies have a child without an eye" and others. However, in some localities there was also a variant of "The Tenth Pod on Kissel".
Use of the term
In modern Russian, in its original sense, the expression "Seventh water on jelly" is practically not used. Today it has an allegorical meaning and is used most often to denote very distant family ties, the nature and origin of which is very difficult to establish. Often the use of this expression has a negative connotation associated with unfounded claims of such relatives for any preferences on the basis of such kinship. For example, this phrase can be heard in a situation related to the distribution of an inheritance.