Where Local and Global Appetites Collide

Happy Hanukkah – Do You Have Hanukkah Gelt or Guilt?

Hanukkah starts on December 4 eve and lasts eight days. No, it’s not the Jewish Christmas but I can see how people think so because it happens in December and there’s an exchange of presents.

When I was a kid, we would get a present every night of the week. They weren’t big presents but things that we needed like socks, underwear, head bands, pajamas…that kind of thing plus one special gift. It was cool and I felt special.

As an adult, I don’t do Hanukkah or Chanukah.

What I miss about the holiday is the food traditions. I miss the potato pancakes or latkes as they are called. What, me make potato latkes? No way, they require grating potatoes (I remember the bloody knuckles–this was before Cuisinarts) and then they are fried in lots of oil. Hanukkah is all about the oil.

Occasionally, I will buy some frozen packaged potato latkes but they’re never as good. Sometimes we had mashed potato pancakes which were easier to make. In upscale restaurants, I’ve had mini potato pancakes with creme fraiche and caviar — now that’s a heavenly little twist.

I cannot remember much more about what other foods we ate. I think we always had our potato latkes with brisket and homemade applesauce. It was divine. Or sometimes with sour cream but not meat.

Some people eat jelly donuts on Hanukkah. Again, it was about the oil.

What Hanukkah traditions do you have?

Here are an assortment of mouth-watering latke recipes with nontraditional ingredients and toppings. I like to think of this as latkes for the 21st century. 


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