I know what you’re probably thinking: what the heck is a latke? It’s a fancy Yiddish word for potato pancake. But in my world, it’s so much more. Latkes mean Hanukkah is here! Lately I’ve come across so many people who are unfamiliar with Hanukkah. And I’ve even met some who’ve never met a Jew! Hard to believe in 2016 (especially in such a culturally diverse city like Houston), but it’s true. This is a reality for the Jewish people. There are a lot less of us than there were 100 years ago… and if you don’t know that story then please brush up on your world history. So, if this is the first time you’ve read about latkes, I can’t say I’m super surprised. But oh boy, your world is about to get a whole
lot latke yummier.
A couple weeks ago, a friend of mine suggested that I share more about my religion, traditions and Jewish culture on the blog. I can’t say I’ll dive in too deep here, but I am excited to share from time to time about this special and important element of my life. I’m Jewish. I’m reform (for now). I’m more culturally Jewish than religious (for now). And yes, my family, my husband, his family and our baby are all Jewish. Guys, I met Dr. P at Jewish summer camp. Did I blow your mind yet?
In my day to day life, I’m surrounded by tons of people just like us. Morgan plays with other Jewish kids, most of our best friends are Jewish, and to be honest with you, that’s one of the reasons we decided to move home to Houston in the first place. The Jewish community in Houston is so welcoming and warm — and for those of you unfamiliar, also quite large.
A little Judaism 101 for you: Hanukkah doesn’t fall on the same days every year. In fact, our holidays follow the Hebrew calendar, essentially making the year 11 days shorter. So, the dates of our holidays vary year to year. And this year, Hanukkah coincidentally begins the evening of Saturday, Dec. 24 — aka, Christmas Eve. The holiday lasts for 8 nights. We light our Menorah, sing songs, give presents, play games and eat a lot of food (of which latkes are very present, likely along with some rendition of a bubbe brisket). And no, we do not have a Christmas tree. Though I must admit from a non-religious standpoint, I’d love to have one in my home someday. They really are so, so pretty.
But back to the latkes.
Dr. P likes them with a dollop of sour cream. Some like them with chunky applesauce. Others like them with smooth applesauce. Personally, I don’t discriminate and put both applesauce and sour cream on mine. The more the merrier during the holidays, right? Crispy, never soggy. Fresh, never frozen. And because I love you a latke, I figured I’d share the Hanukkah joy with you all this holiday!
I’ve rounded up 10 latke recipes (some traditional, some not) so that you can explore and, I hope, devour some of the
potato pancake latke goodness with me this year.
- 1. Tori Avey’s Classic Potato Latkes
2. What Jew Wanna Eat’s Purple Sweet Potato Latkes with Truffle Yogurt and Arugula
3. Saveur’s Bubbe’s Hanukkah Latkes
4. bon appetite’s Adam and Maxine’s Famous Latkes
5. Savory Tooth’s Rosemary Garlic Latkes with Crunchy Scallions
6. Mom’s Kitchen Handbook’s Sweet Potato and Butternut Squash Latkes
7. Brown Eyed Baker’s Crispy Potato Latkes
8. An Edible Mosaic’s Carrot-Apple Latkes
9. Love and Olive Oil’s Crispy Potato Latkes with Spiced Pear Compote
10. The Bojon Gourmet’s Harissa Sweet Potato Latkes with Spiced Yogurt, Mint and Pomegranate
Funny story, when Dr. P and I lived in San Antonio, we made our first attempt together at homemade latkes. Somehow we messed up the ingredients or the method because they turned into puffy latkes! Not crunchy or crispy, but fluffy like San Antonio’s infamous (read: not. a. fan.) puffy tacos. #fail
Whether your table includes ham, turkey, casseroles, latkes, veggies, pies, cookies or cakes, I hope you are surrounded by love, warmth and celebration this holiday. Latkes are a nostalgic tradition for me, something that I hope to pass on for generations to come. What are some of your holiday traditions?