When the sun goes down next Saturday, the Jewish holiday Hanukkah (lots of ways to spell it, we're going with the Associated Press-recommended version) will begin. It lasts for eight nights and eight days, and on at least one of those nights, there is usually a fun party featuring lots of games and food.
Although Hanukkah is probably the most known Jewish holiday because of its proximity on the calendar to Christmas, it is not the most important nor is it the favorite of this Jewish writer (that would be Purim, a holiday on which you are required to get drunk). But Hanukkah has its charm and features a really tasty food—latkes.
What is Hanukkah all about? The basic story is that it marks the victory of the underdog Maccabees over the Syrian-Greek military in defense of Israel more than 2,000 years ago. Go here if you want more specifics.
In addition to lighting candles on the menorah, playing dreidel games and, for some people, exchanging presents, Hanukkah celebrators eat a fried potato pancake called a latke. It is a tasty treat, although for your arteries' sake you should limit how many you eat.
Below is a latke recipe from my mother Kimber Friedman of Pompano Beach, Fla.
3 cups of peeled, grated and drained potatoes (cheese cloth works the best for the draining)
4 tablespoons of grated onion
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 tablespoons of matzoh meal
1/2 cup of butter for frying
1. Mix the ingredients (except the butter) in a bowl.
2. Place a few spoonfuls of the mixture on a frying pan, then flatten them like a pancake.
3. Fry the latkes in butter until done. The original recipe calls for lard, but it is rarely used these days. You can use olive oil if you prefer.
4. Serve the latkes with apple sauce, sour cream or ketchup if you are really boring!