Yesterday, for the first night of Chanukah, I made latkes. I followed the recipe EXACTLY, which is near impossible for me, because I’m always substituting apple sauce for oil or leaving the garlic in the grocery store where it belongs. All of the latke ingredients (luckily garlic was not one of them) had been carefully measured and combined.
Two out of the three of us liked them. The other will remain nameless. More for us, my son and I declared! (oops!) In all fairness, my husband had eaten the first one out of the pan and as everyone knows, the first pancake is the throw-away.
After moving to Texas, and abandoning my Maryland family’s traditional latke-eating dinner, I missed the scramble. After lighting the menorah, one of my three sisters would prepare the batter (I don’t think it’s batter, but I can’t think of the name right now!), another would hoist spoonfuls into hot oil, while the other sister, me, and the rest of our families would pass the platter and inhale the potato pancakes as if they were the last ones on earth. The fry-chef-sister in the kitchen barely got to sit down (though I imagine a few didn’t make it to the table) before we clamored for more.
Here in Texas, our menorah candles flickered on the counter. My latkes wouldn’t have impressed my chef-sisters but, though we didn’t have any of the pesky sharing with twelve others, the platter was empty after our meal (did I mention there were only two of us eating them?). However, they just didn’t taste the same. Meals eaten without the tradition and chaos of family are missing a key ingredient.