Latkes are definitely a labor of love. A very greasy, oily, labor of love. A time consuming, set off the smoke detector (twice), back breaking, use up half a bottle of oil, not to mention a 45 minute cleanup, and the entire house smells like a diner, labor of love. Can you feel all that love for the miracle of the oil?
I have made latkes over the years in different ways according to the tastes of my family. I prefer the home-style kind where you can actually see the grated potato sticking out in crunchy, jagged edges. My daughter likes the mealy kind, where everything is ground up in the processor and poured out like pancake batter-she really likes the gigantic frozen kind (UGH).
My husband is just happy that I am making something that can’t really be considered healthy. Poor thing has had to suffer through broccoli, spaghetti squash, and turkey meatloaf (all which were eaten along with seconds…hmmmm). But, bona fide carbs and oil? Well, who needs to spend endless hours shopping for the perfect gift when a fried potato will do?
I really wasn’t up to latkes this year. I didn’t’ want to make them, especially after rolling, cutting and baking six dozen sugar cookies.…I was so tired. However, my son made a special request for latkes and I had recently viewed a recipe in my favorite new cookbook Vegan Holiday Kitchen by Nava Atlas for eggless latkes. Despite my weariness, I wanted my allergic baby to feel like everyone else and truly enjoy the holiday with traditional fare, as he has to cope with food issues on a regular basis in school and elsewhere (by the way, other traditional fare also includes jelly donuts…don’t even think I am going to fry donuts any time soon).
So, I grated, grated and grated some more…by hand (can you hear the violins playing in the background)? Do I get the Jewish mother of the year award for hand grating as opposed to using the food processor? Do the cuts on my fingers and occasional drops of blood get me any closer to sainthood? Nope. Then, I mixed, and plopped and fried….and fried, and fried and fried. There was oil on the counter, stovetop and splatters on the wall. Let’s not even talk about my clothes that require fumigation. By the better part of an hour, I had a tin full of golden, brown, shiny, jagged, crunchy edged, and paper- towel soaked latkes. Yeah, me. Now, my son who deals with food allergies so stoically could eat the same thing as everyone else on Hanukkah…safely.
He picked it up, popped it into his mouth, and declared…”sorry, I don’t really like latkes, can I have pasta instead?”
Ah, yes, the miracle of rigatoni.