Editor’s Note—Nitza Gilad is the wife of Roey Gilad, Israel’s consul general to the Midwest based at the Israeli Consulate in Chicago. Her explanation of the traditional Hanukkah potato pancake and her recipe are reprinted here from the Consular website with the permission of the consul general’s office.
Where Does the Word Latke Come From? Here are some ideas …
1. The word "latke" itself is derived (via Yiddish) from the Russian/Ukrainian word латка meaning "patch."
2. The word לביבה leviva, the Hebrew name for latke, has its origins in the Book of Samuel's description of the love story of Amnon and Tamar. Some interpreters have noted that the homonym לב lev means "heart.”
3. Latka Gravas is a fictional character on the television sitcom Taxi portrayed by Andy Kaufman. Latka was based on a character known as Foreign Man that immigrant to America from an unnamed country, perhaps a Jew.
4. Which other ones do you know about?
Latkes need not necessarily be made from potatoes. Numerous modern recipes call for the addition of ingredients such as onions and carrots. Prior to the introduction of the potato to the Old World, latkes were, and in some places still are, made from a variety of other vegetables, cheeses, legumes, or starches, depending on the available local ingredients and food ways of the various places where Jews lived. Please tell me about your traditional, family recipe, and where it came from in an E-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org.)!
My mother came from Hungary. Potatoes were the main food in that area, and they remain an essential crop in Europe.
Here it is. I'm sure everybody knows this recipe but not everybody uses the Tip below….
2 cups peeled and shredded potatoes
1 tablespoon grated onion
3 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup oil for frying
1. Place the potatoes in a cheesecloth and wring, extracting as much moisture as possible (it keeps your kitchen clean).
2. In a medium bowl stir the potatoes, onion, eggs, flour and salt together.
3. In a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil until hot. Place large spoonfuls of the potato mixture into the hot oil, pressing down on them to form 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick patties. Brown on one side, turn and brown on the other. Let drain on paper towels.
Serve hot! YUM!