Article Title: Latkes Through The Generations
“As a modern young man brought up in non-religious family, I don’t often think about religious symbolism and food rites. With parents from Anglican and Jewish backgrounds and with friends of many other faiths, as well as none, I’ve been exposed to a wide range of culinary practices and observances reflecting different belief systems. But there is one branch of my family tree that holds a very special importance for me, because the ethnicity of those ancestors so nearly resulted in their extermination. Had it not been for an accident of luck involving the mis-routing of a train, my great grandmother would almost certainly not have survived transportation to Auschwitz and neither my father nor I would be here today. I don’t know what meals great grandma cooked back in those days in Warsaw, but I’m pretty sure that when the ingredients were available, latkes would have been an important part of her diet.
In recent years I’ve thought about those delicious potato pancakes from time to time and imagined cooking them myself. Back in December, when I read food blogs about Hanukkah, the memory of those latkes came flooding back. I saw several latke recipes, but they were more what I would describe as hash browns, rather than the pancakes I used to enjoy so much. After much searching I found this reference on Silverbrow on Food to Feed Me Bubbe in which they had posted a recipe and video for Chanukah latkes. Although the recipe used grated potato, the video showed potato and onion blended together with flour in a food processor and I knew immediately that this was the method I’d been looking for.
And this morning, off college for half-term, I found the time at last to make my very first latkes. I used gluten-free flour, so dad could share lunch with me. I served my latkes with home-made apple sauce (cooked with cinnamon and cloves) and a sour cream topping with a dash of vanilla, and freshly ground black pepper to add a bitter note to the sweet and sour flavours.
They were delicious, but more importantly they were very much like the ones I used to eat all those years ago. I felt very good for having eaten them, but I felt even better for having made them. There is something very special about the passing on of your cultural heritage through the generations.
As you can see from this photo, we had our final serving of latkes with some scrambled egg yolks. Not something I’d normally do, but I wanted to use up some leftovers from something else I cooked today. It’s another dish I’ve wanted to make properly for quite a while now, and I’m very proud of the results at what was only my second ever attempt.
See if you can guess what it was. All will be revealed later in the week“