Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Year I Saved Chanukah: A Nevin Barich Blog Experience

One of the staples during every Chanukah season are potato latkes. Latkes, for those who don't know, are potato pancakes that are as prominent during Chanukah as turkey is during Thanksgiving.

I'd like to confess something here.

I hate potato latkes.

There. I said it.

And I need to point out something: I've tried to like potato latkes. I really have. Year after year, I've given them chance after chance. And every time, they've let me down.

Here are my three issues with potato latkes:

Potato Latke Issue # 1: They don't taste like hash browns.

Now-Jews who have attended Chanukah gatherings who had never heard of a latke have no doubt been told that latkes taste like hash browns.

This is a lie.

Latkes taste nothing like hash browns. Hash browns, for one thing, taste good. Also, hash browns melt in your mouth and don't clump into mushy patties after five seconds out of the pan. Plus, hash browns don't contain those weird Jewish spices that no one can ever describe but yet spot in all Jewish foods.

Jews everywhere know what I'm talking about.

Potato Latke Issue # 2: Incompatibility with sour cream.

Sour cream is often served with potato latkes. On paper, this makes sense. Many potato dishes taste good with sour cream. Baked potatoes. Potato skins. Even french fries in certain instances.

But potato latkes, for some reason, don't work with sour cream. I can't put my finger on it. Maybe it's a combination of the clumpiness and Jewish spices that makes it resistant to the greatness of sour cream. Regardless, potato latkes and sour cream just don't mix.

Now I ask you: How can one trust a potato dish that doesn't mesh with sour cream? That's like creating a milk that doesn't work with chocolate syrup. It's unnatural, off-kilter, unholy.

When a potato dish doesn't work with sour cream, it's time to find another starch.

Potato Latke Issue # 3: It's often eaten with applesauce.

Here's my theory about how "potato latkes with applesauce" began:

Someone, thousands of years ago, decided to take an apple, mash it up into a fine sauce paste, and serve it with their potato latkes as a cruel joke.

And here's what went wrong:

No one who ate these latkes knew it was a joke and didn't want to hurt the person's feelings. Thus, they said that the mix of potato latkes and applesauce was bold and exciting. As a result, applesauce became a potato latke staple and people have convinced themselves that the combination is good.

Let me ask you: Do potatoes and apples mix?

Don't answer because it's a rhetorical question.

No, they don't mix!! Are you kidding me? One's a vegetable and one's a fruit sauce. One's fried and one is...A FRUIT SAUCE!!!

Does that sound appealing to anybody? Be honest with yourselves now.

At this point, you may be asking yourself: "Nev, why did you entitle this blog, 'The Year I Saved Chanukah.'"

Here's why:

At the recent yearly Chanukah party thrown by my fiancee's family, we were treated to the following announcement:

We have a latke shortage this year. Repeat: A latke shortage. So please don't take as many as usual.

The gasps are still echoing across the room.

It was then that I answered the call.

"I won't eat any latkes this year," I said.

"Are you sure?" the Jews in the room replied.

"Absolutely," I said. "It won't be easy; I'll have to fill up on crispy chicken and seven-layer dip -- you know, good food -- but I will happily sacrifice the latkes that I was going to force myself to keep down with the use of massive amounts of salt and ketchup."

I'm paraphrasing, but you get the idea.

And thanks to me, everyone else got their normal amount of latkes.

And I saved Chanukah.

This story should be re-told every year till the end of time.


And now for this week's:


Last week, I mentioned how Scarlett Johannson was selling her snot rag on eBay for charity.

This week, I'm here to report that it sold for more than $5,300.


Does anyone have any words? Because I'm at a loss...


Dave said...

I've sat patiently while you've ranted about unimportant topics on this blog, but I cannot stand back and countenance your scurrilous and unwarranted attack on the important institution of potato latkes. It was beyond the pale.

While taste in food is admittedly subjective, you've impugned the integrity of the most soulful, beautiful, innocent edible in existence. Shame on you. Fie on you.

The weird Jewish spice(s) contained in latkes? Those would be salt and pepper.

Another Suburban Mom said...

I've always liked the potato latkes, but I've also been allowed to have ketchup at my Hanukkah parties. Actually I think that is why my friends probably invited me.

Someone's grandma would sigh and put ketchup on the table for 'the shiksa that Sammy brings over, shes a nice girl but bubbe and nanny would roll over in their graves if he got serious about her'.