"The Author-Preneur with Something To Say That You'll Love To Read."

Latkes

If you have not read CONSOLATIONS OF THE LATKE then you best start there. 

The piece is an excerpt from the book The Great Latke and Hamantash Debate.  What an awesome romp through philosophy, philology, and gnosh.  It has all of the pertinent intelligence on food that you should wade through before stepping out and attempting to cook.

This is a point that I think is under emphasized in many food circles.  But, it is really important to have a good understanding of the food you are about to cook before you cook it.

Even if the ken of knowledge that you open is only an understanding of your own history or family history with a particular food.  It gives you a whole ambiance and locus from within which your dish will be cooked, served, and consumed.  It is the very earth you stand on while cooking your sumptuous fare.

Lots of folks say this takes too much time.  It does take a lot of time, but entering into the essence of dish is critical if you are to connect with it and eventually drawl from it the taste required by your current palate and meal objectives.  So, give the reading on latkes a try.



Let's get back to the actual latkes, not the ethereal/heavenly ones but the ones we will build, cook, and eat. 

Start with some good shredding.  Pick the potato of choice and flavor.  Add to your mix some homemade bread crumbs from your favorite bread - dried and crumbled.  It is good to try different breads over the years - and even in one sitting - to get a full portfolio of flavor.

Herbs are critical.  I like a touch of fresh garlic, and a pinch of fresh tarragon, sea salt, and course ground pepper.  Chop or shred some onion into the bowl.   Then add one egg, mix, and let it sit to share flavors.

Make little piles of latke in your cast iron frying pan.  It should be good and hot after sitting on a medium flame for a few minutes.  Olive oil is the best for flavoring - at least with my latkes.  Use your hands like tongs and grab the latke pile right out of the bowl.  Grab enough to make a 3-4 inch latke in the pan.  Once the latke is in the pan, just gently push it down with the tips of the fingers.  The rest is up to you: fry it till it is the color you love, but make sure the potato is cooked through.

I am not going to give you numbers of potatoes, or tablespoons of spices, or sizes of shreddings.  All this stuff is up to you.  Although, I wouldn't add more than one egg.  You want to develop your own style with dishes - latkes included.  Play around with all of the variables. This is how you are building your own cooking style and cafe menu.

Garnish at will and devour slowly with a wine of choice (unless of course at breakfast...then an oatmeal lager is suggested.

I used to make and serve latkes at home for years.  I always loved them.  I used to serve them to the kids in the social rehab group I ran back in the 80's.  There were other Jewish foods I loved and served. 

I have read Jewish theology  and Talmud from the 70's and always found a kindred spirit in the Jewish heart.  I love to pray with Tallis.  I used to study at the Hillel Foundation at Penn State.  People always used to ask me why.  I never had an answer...I just liked it.  It felt right.

Three years ago, while doing some research on ancestry.com I discovered that my great, great grandfather was buried in the Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia.  No one in the family ever had a clue.  Now I know why I have loved these things; why it felt right.  

These things have been inextricably woven into my soul by my ancestors.   Yetta Speier, Jacob Baum and Lena Myer have planted in my being a love for Talmud, a taste for Latkes, and a call to put on Tallis.

Pour the wine, shred the potatoes, and find the right garnish.  Oi.

L'Chaim!

+TJM

1 comment:

  1. I love Cajun cooking (I was inspired by Emeril Lagasse) so I am used to the "trinity"--celery, onions and bell peppers used for the foundation of many dishes in that cuisine. I hope to have a friend from England and his family over for Boxing Day and serve a gumbo or perhaps red beans and rice.

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