Hot, crispy and full of potato goodness. Yes, it’s almost Hanukkah, and that means it’s time for latkes! Hanukkah starts this Wednesday, and Benjies will be selling latkes in the restaurant or by the dozen to go.
But why latkes? Latkes, or potato pancakes, are a traditional Jewish dish, often served during Hanukkah. Because they are fried in oil, commemorating the oil that miraculously provided light for eight days, latkes have gained popularity as a Hanukkah dish. (But that doesn’t mean you can only get latkes at Hanukkah time. Happily, many delis and Jewish restaurants sell them year round, like Benjies!) Legend has it that Judith of Holofernes was able to put the Assyrian leader into a deep sleep by serving him latkes. With the advantage provided by his deep sleep, Judith took the opportunity and beheaded the Assyrian leader. Naturally, the Assyrians ended their siege because they no longer had a leader.
But potatoes are a New World food—how could they make latkes in Biblical times? That’s true: back then, it’s thought that latkes were made of grated cheese bound with egg, fried in oil. By serving the Assyrian leader what were basically cheese puffs and (if legend is accurate) a large quantity of wine, Judith must have been sure her plan would work. (more…)