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.