|Hanukkah House, Binghamton, New York|
Tomorrow, I will blog more about this year's visit to Hanukkah House, a museum in Binghamton, New York open one month a year, but today is a time for food memories.
Hanukkah is an eight day holiday - this year beginning at sundown tonight (December 12) and ending sundown, December 20. (Our days begin at sundown, and we follow a lunar calendar, so holidays fall on different days on our secular calendar each year.)
The holiday (briefly) commemorates a miracle where, after enemy occupation, our Temple was restored to us, and a menorah, powered by oil, was to have been lit. But there was only enough oil for one night. It would take eight days to get more oil (remember, transportation in the second century BCE was somewhat slow) and, the flame burned those eight days until more oil arrived.
Several types of foods are traditional for Hanukkah in my cultural tradition:
Fried foods - two examples would be jelly donuts and latkes. There are many more.
Hanukkah gelt - chocolate coins. Ok, chocolate in the shape of coins, with foil wrappers. Fun!
Dairy - I didn't eat these as a child, but as adults, my spouse and I enjoy a fried cheese patty which, blending in his Italian tradition, he covers with mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce and bakes in the oven. Not like the original. His own.
But as for those latkes - I loved when my Mom made them. (And I love when my spouse makes them in his own way.)
Mom would take out a 4 sided grater and hand-grate Russet (baking) potatoes, followed by onions. She would squeeze any accumulated water. To the mixture, she would then add matzoh meal (you can substitute flour), eggs, salt and pepper. She would form into patties and fry. Many Jewish households of the day used chicken fat for the frying but if you did that, you would not be able to eat with dairy food.
I can smell them cooking now, filling our small apartment's kitchen with the scents of Hanukkah, as I watch the candles burn.
My Mom would serve with homemade applesauce if a meat meal, or, with sour cream for a dairy meal.
This is how my spouse, the family cook, makes them nowadays.
Do you have a favorite holiday dish?
Happy Hanukkah to all of my readers who celebrate.
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