Cooking for Hanukkah

The Treat of Fried Potatoes and a Lesson About Independence

Cooking for Hanukkah

The Treat of Fried Potatoes and a Lesson About Independence

The story is of a single flask of oil that burned for eight nights, rekindling the Temple menorah at the time of the Maccabee rebellion. As children welcome the bounty of eight nights of gelt as the eight lights on the menorah are sequentially lit, the Hanukkah meal is often planned around oil fried favorites like fruit-filled doughnuts.

With Irish ancestors and a Jewish husband, I think the traditional Hanukkah dish of fried potato pancakes called latkes is a perfect food. If I didn't worry about calories from oil and carbs I'd probably eat them weekly but nutrition being as it is, I save the splurge for this joyous holiday which begins next week on December 5th.

Over the years I've learned a few tips to make latkes crisp on the outside, tender inside, and completely delicious:

 

A plate of latkes served with a simple cooked fish, or a pan-grilled steak (as a substitute for frites), or just a vibrant chopped salad is a satisfying winter meal.  But because we cook for many reasons -- comfort, creative expression, nostalgia, community -- we can also cook these potato pancakes as a holiday celebration, appreciating the inspiring story behind this traditional dish:  that we can succeed despite enormous challenges and that we can conserve a precious resource and still be independent.  Isn't it wonderful what cooking can mean?

Happy Hanukkah!

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