Thursday, December 22nd, 2016

The Festive Food Traditions of Hanukkah

There is good reason to celebrate the Jewish food traditions of Hanukkah during the upcoming winter holiday period. Due to the different cycles of the Jewish calendar, which, as a blend of lunar and solar, has annual variations in its holiday calendaring, Hanukkah overlaps with the Christmas period this year.


This is especially wonderful for families who have the dual tradition of observing both holidays. But even if Hanukkah is not on your calendar, this year may be a good opportunity to introduce some of its iconic dishes into your holiday menu.

Hanukkah Food Associations: This eight-day holiday has two major food associations. The first and best known is oil. Why oil? According to the Hanukkah story, there was a miracle with a tiny drop of pure oil, sufficient to light the menorah in the Jerusalem temple for only one day, lasting eight days. Hence the eight days of the holiday, often referred to as the Festival of Lights, and the importance of fried food.

The other food association with Hanukkah is cheese. Similar to the Hanukkah story of the underdog Maccabees defeating the occupiers of ancient Judea (chronicled in the Book of Maccabees) the apocryphal Book of Judith tells the story of Judith who helped her Judean city triumph over foreign invading forces.

Potato Pancakes: The most popular foods associated with Hanukkah are potato pancake or latkes. The best way to make this delicious dish is from scratch, with grated potatoes and onions, which is added to a bonding batter. Then fry pancakes in oil until crispy at the edges.

Today, with Cuisinart’s, making this dish is much less time-consuming than it used to be. Using sweet potatoes as your ingredient staple is an excellent substitution, not to mention adding in other vegetables like carrots and parsnips.

Potato pancakes go great with all kinds of toppings, such as an apple sauce and sour cream. They also go well with cranberry sauce and gravy.

Deep Fried Desserts: Not for the faint of heart (or stomach), deep-fried desserts are also popularly associated with Hanukkah. Perhaps the most familiar desserts are jelly donuts, but you can also try deep-fried Oreos or cupcakes.

Cheese-Filled Pastries: There are some great cheese-filled pastries associated with the Jewish baking tradition, and might be consumed for the Festival of Lights. These include cheese blintzes, which are a thin doughy exterior wrapped around a soft cheese filling. Other blintz fillings include blueberries, if you are looking for a blintz dessert.

Cheese bourekas are another tasty cheese pastry, with origins in the Middle East, and consist of flaky pastry dough wrapped around cheese.

If you like these ideas and are planning an event, feel free to contact Jerry’s Kitchen about catering ideas. We offer full service catering in Doylestown, King of Prussia, and in other local areas.


My Jewish Learning

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