Part of my large collection of Hanukkah decorations includes a group children’s holiday books. None of them were mine from childhood but rather simply caught my eye through my adult years. One had cute mice baking rugelach, another a tiny real draidel suspended from a ribbon but my favorite is a book called Papa’s Latkes by Jane Breskin Zalben. Most of the books center around the mama or bubbie making holiday treats but in Zalben’s book about a family of Jewish bears, it is the papa who makes the latkes for Hanukkah. The story always made me smile because growing up my papa also was in charge of making the latkes.
My Papa’s Latkes
Potatoes (how many? A LOT!)
Onion (How much? Not too much!)
Matzoh meal (a handful but Papa’s hand not mine)
Eggs (2-3 depends on how many potatoes we used-see above)
pinch of baking powder (Uh Oh that was supposed to be a family secret)
Get out the biggest bowl you have. Not that one it is too small.
Find the grater that you only use this time of year.
Grate most of the potatoes on the coarse part and the rest on the fine part and all of the onion on the fine part.
At some point you will grate a bit of knuckle; this is part of the holiday joy.
Squeeze all of the liquid out of the potatoes but keep the liquid in a bowl
Make a huge magillah out of reserving the potato starch and then forget and dump it all down the drain
Beat the eggs and add them along with the matzoh meal and salt and pepper
Mix with a big wodden spoon that is half stained pink from stirring borcht
Heat oil in two huge frying pans and fry latkes until crisp and golden
Mazel Tov! Now we can eat already…