Food

The Foodie-file: The Perfect Latkes

Canadian Living
Food

The Foodie-file: The Perfect Latkes

Many people in the office have been talking about Hanukkah dinners, what they are making, who is helping, where they are eating etc. I love to hear food lore from other cultures and getting the inside scoop on the authentic way to make traditional dishes. I had an interesting latke conversation with Adell. I said that I have always made latkes small, thin and crisp but when you buy them at a Jewish deli, quite often they are thick and cakey - so what is the right way? I have also seen instant mixes for latkes - is this how they come out thick and cakey? Adell, who has been helping with Hanukkah dinners since she was a child - assured me that they too make them thin and crispy. So where does the other version come from? Is this just a poorly executed latke or is this the cultural tradition from a particular country? I do not add flour to my mix; I grate the potatoes and cook them quickly before they turn brown, so that they stick together with the natural starch in the potatoes. It seems the more authentic way is to add flour, but sometimes they end up soft with the flour addition. Lucy Waverman had a good hint, she says to soak the potatoes in cold water before making the batter and this will help to maintain crispiness. I haven't tried it but Cath at the office did and she said it worked great. Cath also told me that she uses a food mill to make her apple sauce just as her mother did and adds one red apple to make the sauce pink. This is the kind of traditional cooking experience I love, in order to get the results her mother did, it must be done exactly as it has been done in the past - no shortcuts. While latkes themselves speak to a shared historic instance; the miracle of the oil - the method, the flavour, and the texture of the food tangibly speaks to tradition, family history and cultural experience. It is not just what we eat but how we prepare food that carries our lessons and history to generations to come. Happy Hanukkah! Click here to sign up for Christine’s Canadian Living Food for Friends e-newsletter!
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The Foodie-file: The Perfect Latkes

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