Tuesday, November 30, 2010

8 Nights of Recipes

Here's an idea......
It's quite nearly Chanukah, the Jewish Festival of Lights.  (And yes, Hanukkah, Hanukah, or Chanukkah are also perfectly correct spellings...there's no perfect English translation from the Hebrew word.)

Chanukah means different things to different people...if you're in the under 16 set, it might be 8 nights of presents.  For many, it's a time to be with family and friends and relax at a casual, symbolic meal, accentuating the Festival aspect of the holiday.  Some of us raised in American consumer culture may remark that Chanukah has become the Jewish Christmas....which feels fun to some folks and very much besides the point of the holidays to others (I'm in the 2nd camp, in case you asked.)

However, one thing that Chanukah means to the large majority is food. Specifically, food fried in oil.  The story of Chanukah from ancient times goes that a small amount of oil, which was meant to burn for only a brief period, managed to stay lit for an unprecedented 8 nights.  These 8 nights of light were needed to clean and restore the Temple. And thanks to that ancient miraculous oil, modern day Jews get to indulge in all manner of delightful fried stuffs this time of year.

The classic treat is the all-hailed potato latke; thin pancakes of crispy shredded potatoes, often served with sour cream and applesauce. (You want a plateful right now, don't you? Or maybe that's just me projecting again....)  A second favorite is sufganiyot; the humble jelly donut.  People make these at home....from scratch.  And no, that won't be the recipe I'll be sharing today. (Maybe someday, eh?)

Today, I'm simply here to let you know that as my Chanukah gift to you, I'll be attempting to post 8 nights of recipes (or delicious food ideas) for the 8 nights of Chanukah.  Will they all be fried in luscious lashings of the finest olive oil?  For the sake of all of our arteries (and budgets), no.  I'm sure I'll post 1 or more holiday-appropriate treats, but what I'm especially interested in discussing, sharing, and eating is what we can enjoy as part of a meal alongside the latkes.

So over the course of the holiday, expect a dip, a soup, some crunchy veggies, and maybe a surprise treat or too.
And of course more potential latke accompaniments are always desired....what do you serve with your latkes?