Latkes and Potato Pancakes
The name is of Yiddish origin, and may have come from either Germany
or Russia. As Jews immigrated to the US, so did the tradition of
preparing latkes. Many families now prepare these pancakes from recipes
over 100 years old. Therefore, even though they are not prepared as in
ancient times, potato latkes have a rich history as well.
Latkes, or potato pancakes, are a traditional Jewish dish, often
served during Hanukkah. They have gained popularity as a Hanukkah dish
because they are fried in oil, commemorating the oil that miraculously
provided light for eight days. Some traditionalists argue that at
Hanukkah, cheese and not potato latkes should be served. However, the
introduction of the potato to Europe forever changed the dish. Most
often, ancient recipes containing cheese are now forsaken in preference
to those established in the 18th century.
It is prepared
using potato and is cooked by either shallow frying or in a very small
amount of butter or oil in a pan. There are many variations of potato
cakes and other potato dishes that are similar, including potato
latkes, hash browns, and potato pancakes.