Friday, November 26, 2010
BRIDGING TO HANNUKAH BY MOUTH
Hanukkah is right around the corner. It seems hard to so quickly make the mental switch from turkey and dressing to potato latkes and applesauce. But switch we must.
There was a time when I wanted to be a purist in my cooking and do everything the "old fashioned way." Before I married Jerry I had never even tasted a bagel or kugel or tsimmes or latkes, and after we married I certainly wasn't going to try to put on a dinner with traditional Jewish foods and serve it to people who had been cooking and eating that stuff all their lives. So I enlisted Jerry's sister Judy to be the latke maker. Basically, I handed her a food processor, some potatoes and told her to grind away while I watched. Good sister-in-law that she was, she took over graciously.
The dinner went reasonably well - at least everybody said the food was good - but I knew in my heart of hearts that if left up to me, I would NEVER, EVER, make potato latkes from scratch. It was way too time intensive, and I discovered that if you put 10 latkes on a plate, they would be gone with the first intake of a breath. If you put 50 on a plate, they disappeared in the same time in the same manner. There was never enough latkes. Later, I discovered two very important things: First, latkes made from a packaged mix didn't get eaten nearly as fast, and second, Jerry didn't prefer one over the other. You can bet what this purist threw out the door first!
Anyway, everyone still came when we had family dinners and everyone ate perfectly tasty latkes from Manischewitz without any grumbling at all. I was let off the hook very easily.
This morning I found a blog written by Jamie Geller (blog.kosher.com) which talks about eight different kinds of latkes she's developed. As I read through her recipes, I was delighted with her creativity and her blending of tastes: #1 was Cheddar and Potato latkes, #2 Potato and Parsnip latkes (oh,how I love parsnips); #3 Zucchini latkes with a bit of Cajun spice; #4 Carrot and Apple latkes (a little sweeter than usual); #5 South of the Border latkes; #6 Steakhouse latkes - no meat, but uses spinach and potatoes like the side dishes served in steakhouses; #7 Samosa latkes, flavored with curry powder, peas and chutney; and finally #8 - Baked Sweet Potato latkes with Gingered Sour Cream.
I was absolutely entranced by what I read. And she also has a video on YouTube so you can watch her prepare the Samosa Latkes. I determined that I would start with her Parsnips recipe and try them all. Break out the old food processor for the grating and go back to the "old fashioned" way of making potato pancakes. My mouth started watering....
.....and then I came to a sudden stop in my plans. With my ideopathic dysgeusia (which if you haven't read the earlier blogs you'll now know is a condition I acquired four years ago of "impaired taste" - nothing tastes "right." Nothing tastes the way it should. Some things are barely edible; most things are not. There is no understanding of why this happens and no cure)it is senseless to go to the trouble of trying out new recipes, because I cannot taste them. And to be perfectly honest with you, Jerry would just as soon have the traditional Manischewitz potato latkes anyway.
Next best thing to trying out new and exciting recipes for myself is to pass them on to you in this manner, trusting that some of you will catch my enthusiasm for what Jamie Geller has created, check out her blog and follow her instructions. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised!