Apple and Sweet Potato Latkes and The Christmas vs Hannukah Showdown

by Eden on December 21, 2011

People like to compare and contrast.

We all do it. With co-workers, siblings, ex-boyfriends/girlfriends, and of course, with other bloggers.

This year, Hanukkah and Christmas are overlapping so I thought I’d write up a showdown to see which holiday is more fun:

(Note: please submit your questions about Hanukkah here so I can answer them in a post later this week) 

Food

Winner: Hanukkah

I’m gonna give it to my people on this one. Aside from the lack of bacon, there’s nothing a Hanukkah meal lacks. The typical fare:  crunchy on the outside, soft and steamy on the inside latkes with heaping dollops of sour cream/applesauce or other creative toppings of choice; jelly-filled donuts cheese and blueberry blintzes (heck–throw some powdered sugar on ‘em ’cause it’s a holiday!); some tender, savory brisket; and wine. Every Jewish holiday has wine. Its in the our Bible (yes, really). Christmas?  rubbery ham, a pie made of mincemeat (what the hell is mincemeat, anyhow?), plum pudding (again I ask, what the hell is in that?), fruitcake (aka, doorstop),  and the same stuff you just ate on November 24.

Songs

Winner: Christmas

Ok, Christmas does have it’s fair share of ear bleeding songs (especially when they blast them at he mall), but some are really beautiful (White Christmas), even charming and uplifting. Go listen to “Jingle Bell Rock.” Jingle bell time is a swell time! How could you possibly be sad?  Ok, now go listen to that goofy, obnoxious turd “I Have a Little Dreidel.” What a sick fucking joke. “Then dreidel I shall play”? And Adam Sandler’s song is so tired by now. Lets call it what it is: a list of famous Jewish people.

Gifts:

Gentiles envy Jews for our “eight days of presents,” as if we score eight times as much booty, but in reality we simply ration them over the course of a week.

Aw, you shouldn't have. Really.

Actually, “gifts” on Hanukkah is something that they started doing because of Christmas. Religious Jews don’t do gifts at all. But for those that do gifts,they tend to go like this: Day One and Day Two are big scores, but you’re getting useless junk by Day Five. Christmas is way better about this. You wake up first thing in the morning—no waiting until sunset an orgy of presents! Look at all these wonderful goddamned things! All for me! All at once! All right now!

Decor

Winner: Toss Up

Sure, lighting all those candles on Hanukkah is really beautiful, but Christmas is certainly more “colorful” and “spirited”.

classy

Plus, twinkly lights and scratchy argyle sweaters are kinda cool. However, pine needles are a bitch to clean up. In fact, all my non-Jew friends spend most of January cleaning up the mess Christmas left behind. Oh, and with all he candles around on Hanukkah, everyone needs to make sure they have the fire department on speed dial.

So yea, all in all, both holidays have good and bad decor attributes. Deadlocked.

See? In the end we learn no Holiday is perfect.

Just like our bodies.

Which aspect of the holiday you celebrate do you like/dislike? What do you like/dislike about the holiday you don’t celebrate?

So since Hanukkah won the food round, I’m bringing you a version of latkes. This isn’t the traditional latke recipe Jewish bubbies tend to make, but its still way more delicious that fruitcake. Its a scaled down recipe too, so double or triple it if you want to make it for a party.

(makes about 10 smallish latkes)

  • 1 apple, peeled cored and grated (I used honey crisp)
  • 1 medium sweet potato, grated (note: I used a REAL sweet potato, the kind thats not orange)
  • 1/2 medium red onion, grated
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1/4 cup flour of choice (I actually used a multigrain pancake mix)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • das of numeg
  • vegetable oil or oil spray for the pan (But I strongly suggest you fry them, for the love of god!)
    • Greek yougurt, honey, and walnuts as “garnish”

In a bowl, stir together potatoes,  onion, apple, egg, salt, and spices. Gradually add the pancake mix/flour and stir to combine.

Heat oil in a deep skillet over moderate high heat until hot but not smoking. Working in batches of 4 or 5, spoon a large spoonful of the mixture into the oil and lightly flatten. Reduce heat slightly and cook for about 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Transfer latkes with spatula to a plate layered with paper towels. Once they sit for a moment or two and drain, I transfer them to a cookie sheet. If I’m not serving them immediately, I warm them for a few minutes in the oven before I serve them.

Top with garnish and go sing some Christmas songs.

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Rachel December 22, 2011 at 3:52 am

Man, I want a big pile of latkes with a ton of applesauce plopped on top now! I think Hanukkah’s decor is prettier–I like blue/white/silver better than plain ol’ red & green stuff. That being said, I do have a green Christmas tree and it’s decorated with red plaid bows, and I think that looks nice as well. Christmas music, though, has GOT to go. I have to listen to the world’s worst Christmas music all day long at work (think Mannheim Steamroller and Kenny G), which just so happens to be the same crap my husband (who goes nuts for Christmas music just like his mother does) wants to listen to at home. A friend of mine gave me Weezer’s Christmas CD last week, and I’ve been subjecting my family to that. Hanukkah’s menu sounds better too. I don’t know what mincemeat pie is and I don’t think I want to know!

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Asian Bitch December 22, 2011 at 4:17 am

I hate ham. And why do people put maple syrup or honey or some sort of sugary glaze on top of it?? So weird. Save it for pancakes. And I never had fruitcake. I always wanted to try it, nevermind the fact I hate nuts in baked goods, just because everyone says it’s so nasty (but why does it sell so well?? It’s like blood sausage: everyone goes ewwww but people still buy it.)

I don’t really like Christmas, since we don’t celebrate it, and it makes me so jealous that others have presents and makes me want to kill someone when they still find a way to complain about them (”waaah my boyfriend got me a necklace AGAIN” = Get the fuck out). So Hannukah is the winner for me, just because of the donuts.

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Eden December 22, 2011 at 9:26 am

I love ham, but yes, not like the way americans have it. I like it the way the french and italians prepare it.
And you are spot on about syrup. Although I do like a little bit in mushroom soup. Just a drop. I swear its really good.

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Abby December 22, 2011 at 5:17 am

My mom’s neighbors have actually had their deer humping each other on the front lawn. They have teenage sons, so I think they might have had something to do with that. Either that, or the electric deer are just horny.

Anyway, I prefer latkes to anything “traditionally” served at Christmas, as that’s usually a meat/weirdness heavy meal. However, one word: Pierogis. I’m Polish. They’re in my blood.

And considering I’m frugal, have a big nose and am not religious, I think I should celebrate Hannukah instead. If I could figure out how to spell it.

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Jenny @ Peanut Butter and Jenny December 22, 2011 at 5:54 am

as a devote Christian gal, I hate to say – Christmas food sucks. My family has actually gravitated from the traditional meal and for the past 4 years we’ve ordered pizza. I don’t mind.

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Eden December 22, 2011 at 9:25 am

Jews are like known to order chinese food on christmas or whatever, but we never did that. We usually just went to the movies and snuck in hamburgers from mc donalds.

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eve December 22, 2011 at 6:42 am

In our family, we don’t really do the turkey thing too much (and besides, thanksgiving was far back in OCT here in Canada).

Family for me is the best part of Christmas. We have a huge party at my parents’ place on Christmas Eve, where friends and family come. We eat, drink, chat, dance, eat some more, drink some more, open presents.

Our food is from Sushi to traditional meat pies (tourtierres), to seafood chowder… it’s a potlcuk style.

My husband’s family is more traditional, so we do stumble over to their place, for more presents in the AM and then turkey at 1pm (right after a huge breakfast). Jesus we eat.

But family is what makes the holiday seasons special to me. I suppose the awesome food helps too.

I think I found what I’m bringing to the feast : latkes!!!!

Allowed, yes?

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Cameo December 22, 2011 at 7:40 am

Nice. I concur on all these points. I am going the Feliz route this year. Christmas dinner will be a cornucopia of Mexican food: 2 kinds of enchiladas, lots of guac…and a roasted beet salad. I was raised by incredibly grinchy parents who always ruined Christmas for us kids so we have no loyalty to the holiday…but I like the songs and the decorations, so I continue to celebrate it.

I also like any excuse to drink wine.

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Eden December 22, 2011 at 9:28 am

Jews have a whole holiday where its law (yes, law) that you have to get drunk. when are you converting?

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Ameena December 22, 2011 at 8:32 am

I LOVE latkes but really, I haven’t had a decent one since my last trip to Montreal. I would love to make some….but sigh. We both know my culinary skills don’t extend this far!

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Happy or Hungry December 22, 2011 at 9:42 am

Holy eff those latke’s look ridiculous. I’m not sure if I can totally get on board with you guys winning the food category though…I have never eaten mincemeat pie or plum pudding, do not eat fruitcake (blech, obviously), and I like ham, but I LOVE Christmas cookies a ridiculous amount. I am currently eating one as I type this. Shortbread cookies are my very favourite! So cookies not included? Maybe, MAYBE you win. Otherwise? No. :)

But my fave thing about the holidays is food and family!

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janetha December 22, 2011 at 10:53 am

come over and make me a latke. i have never had one.

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Char @ www.charskitchen.ca December 22, 2011 at 11:01 am

lol, I love this post! I actually really like the food served at Christmas, and for us Canadians, Thanksgiving is way back in October :) I tried fruitcake once, though…so gross. And Christmas carols! I reeaally like singing Christmas carols and decorating the tree! I’m such a dork, haha.

I’m definitely making those latkes! I have a yam, though, so I’ll use that instead. I’ve been craving latkes, so thank you!

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Jolene (www.everydayfoodie.ca) December 22, 2011 at 8:18 pm

I want latkes!!!!

I also love ham … I bought one from the butcher this evening (instead of the grocery store like I had in the past), and they swore it would be the best ham I have ever tasted. We’ll see!

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Sara December 22, 2011 at 9:47 pm

I was always annoyed growing up when my friends assumed I got presents every night for eight nights. No, that’s not how we celebrated Chanukah. We used to get one big family gift. One year, we got a VCR (one of those old ones with the keys; so ahead of the times!), another year, we got a new tv, etc. We do use every excuse we can to drink wine. It’s the Jewish way! Perhaps I should reinstate the family gift by buying a case of wine tomorrow. It will definitely be a happy fourth night of Chanukah!

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andy December 24, 2011 at 1:09 pm

Haha. Cute :) I’ve actually never tried fruitcake before!
P.S. Happy Hanukkah :)

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