Hanukkah Face-Off: Ashkenazi Dish #3


Hanukkah is a time for enjoying Jewish culinary traditions with family and friends, and to that end we present a daily competition between Ashkenazi and Sephardic food, going up around sunset on the first seven days of Hanukkah – and presenting a wrap-up as the sun goes down on the eighth day. Whose food is the most appealing? Help us decide with your comments and social media shares.

Consider the latke. The flattened disc of potato perfection, with its crispy, delicate outer branches yielding to a moist, warm center. Like the burning oil that sustained light for 8 days and nights, these bite-sized hors d’oueuvres are a consistent culinary miracle. Or, at the very least, they’re the first dish to disappear from the table.

Unlike gefilte fish or pickled herring, latkes are the pride of many Eastern European Jews, as they are easily prepared, cheap, and tremendously fortifying. Grounded by shredded potatoes, many recipes use flour or matzo meal as a binder, or may encourage adding chopped onions to the base. You can easily make latkes in advance and reheat them but — know this— there is a better way. If you’re smart (and have fairly good luck with timing), you’ll find yourself in the kitchen while someone else is doing the frying and flipping. This is your chance. Volunteer yourself as “resident seasoner” and allow a flurry of salt and pepper to fall atop the warm spuds. Forget the sour cream and apple sauce. When no one is looking, devour the darkest option peeking out from the bottom of your paper towel-lined plate. If you get caught, just say you “thought it was burnt.” Works every time.

The jury is still out in many households as to whether a coarse or fine potato shred creates the best product. Put an end to the fighting and visit Kutsher’s Tribeca’s “Eight Nights of Latkes” celebration. The contemporary Jewish restaurant is celebrating Hanukkah by featuring different potato pancakes, every night until Saturday, December 15.