The first night of Chanukah is coming up December 24. Are you ready for making latkes?
If you're looking for inspiration, join Chef Matt Gordon of Urban Solace and me on Thursday, December 15 at the North Park Holiday Market. We'll be demonstrating our latke-making techniques, starting at 4 p.m.
Matt, whose demos will take place at 5 and 6 p.m., will be making traditional potato as well as curried latkes. I'll start it off at 4 with carrot and turnip latkes.
Now maybe you're wondering what the heck latkes are. Simply, they're pancakes--crispy on the outside, tender on the inside. Traditionally for Chanukah as celebrated by Eastern European--or Ashkenazi Jews--they're potato pancakes fried in oil.
As traditional as they are, they're actually relatively new in Jewish history. The Maccabees—the priestly family who led the successful rebellion against the Syrians back in 168 B.C.E. which the holiday celebrates—never would have had latkes since they would never have seen a potato. It was only at the end of the 18th century that German Jews began making potato pancakes, but not for Chanukah. And these potato pancakes weren’t just from grated spuds, as we’ve come to assume are the norm, but also mashed, according to Gil Marks’ "Encyclopedia of Jewish Food." Somehow they morphed into a Chanukah tradition brought over to the U.S. with Eastern European emigration.
Given how relatively recent the potato latke became a part of Jewish history, why not riff on tradition and create pancakes from other vegetables, incorporating other flavors to celebrate the festival of lights? After all, the main point of the holiday is to celebrate the miracle of the single jar of oil that burned for eight days.
So, that's what Matt and I will be doing, and handing out plenty of samples accompanied by the traditional sour cream and applesauce. I hope to see you there!
The North Park Holiday Market is located at 3000 North Park Way and 30th St. It runs Thursdays from 3 to 7:30 p.m.