The origin of the tradition of latkes
It might surprise very few to hear that latkes weren't eaten at the first Chanukah celebration. But it may surprise you to hear how youthful the tradition is!
|Photo: Lynn Gardner via Creative Commons|
Back in 1825, food was so scarce in Russia that she ordered farmers to plant potatoes instead of grains.
This was because potatoes could withstand harsher winters, had greater nutritional value and higher yields.
The farmers initially weren't very happy with this decree, as potatoes didn't have a terribly good reputation at the time.
According to Carol Green Ungar, the first potatoes to be planted in Europe were watery and bitter. But of course, when your ruler tells you to plant potatoes...you plant potatoes!
By 1850, the potato was firmly entrenched in the diets of all Russians - and ubiquitous enough to make their way into a Yiddish children's song: "Monday, potatoes; Tuesday, potatoes; Wednesday, potatoes... Shabbos, potato kugel!"
So it was a natural progression for these golden tubers to find their way into holiday celebrations. By the time the first American Jewish cookbook was published in 1889, they were here to stay.
And now you know: Chanukah: 2,178 years old. The latke: a youthful 163!
Chag Orim Sameach - Happy Festival of Lights!
Yiddish Potato Folk Song
"The Little Known Story Behind the Latke," by Carol Green Ungar. Jewish Action, Winter 5774. Page 60.
Gratuitous shot of our latest accomplishment: Chocolate Dreidels - YUM!