Food is an incredibly valuable tool to learn about other cultures, religions, and traditions. It helps us to understand how other people see the world and live their lives. With the holiday of Chanukah occurring right now, cooking and eating traditional Chanukah foods is a way to experience others’ culture if you are not Jewish and to immerse yourself further in your heritage if you are Jewish.
While in elementary school, the parents of Jewish families would always come in during Chanukah and teach the class about the holiday and teach us to make latkes. Coming from a Buddhist family and living in a largely Christian town, the experience of learning about Jewish traditions in school informed me about other people’s beliefs and traditional holiday practices. Today many schools choose to ignore religion altogether, but I have to say that learning about Chanukah in school certainly opened me up to other experiences and also made me feel more connected to the traditions being celebrated at my friends’ homes. And I really can’t argue with using food to teach children about anything!
Potatoes made crispy by frying in oil always taste good, and I’m a big fan of fries and chips—but latkes are really something special. You don’t have latkes just any old day. Those lovely potato pancakes that are crispy on the outside and slightly soft on the inside, nice and warm, topped with sour cream and applesauce are a treat that doesn’t come too often throughout the year. In celebration of Chanukah, latkes, and other fried foods, symbolize the oil that lasted for eight days in the
Latke recipes tend to not vary much from one another. After reviewing several latke recipes online, this recipe is what I came up with to create lovely, crispy latkes.
2 large baking potatoes, peeled and grated
½ white onion, diced
1 tbsp flour or matzo meal
1. Peel and grate the potatoes and dice the onion.
2. Place the grated potatoes and diced onions on a paper towel or a dry cloth. Roll the towel up around the potatoes and onion to remove any excess moisture. This step will help keep the latkes crispy while you fry them.
3. Put the potato and onion mixture in a bowl and add the flour, egg, and a little bit of salt. Mix together.
3. Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan or skillet over medium-high heat.
4. Place spoonfuls (about two tablespoons) of the batter into the hot oil and push them down to form flat pancakes.
5. Fry for a few minutes on each side until golden brown.
6. Place the latkes onto a rack so the extra oil can drip off and sprinkle them with salt. If you need to keep the latkes warm, place them in a warm oven while you finish making the rest of the batch.
7. Serve with sides of sour cream and apple sauce.
I hope you enjoy these delicious latkes. Happy Chanukah!