Every Jewish boy and girl thinks their mom makes the best latkes. But it isn’t true. Know how I know? Because my mom makes the best latkes. Oh, I’ve had some of the soggy-ass latkes your moms are making, and believe me, it was a mitzvah that I didn’t immediately throw them in the garbage.
Latkes are difficult to make. They’re time consuming and all that grating is hell on your forearms. But the struggle that goes into making them reminds us of the many struggles we, as Jews, have had to overcome. One of the biggest struggles, of course, is being forced to eat latkes that weren’t made by our own mother.
I went to a Hanukkah dinner at a friend’s house once and his Bubbe (that’s Hebrew for “grandma,” for any goys who might be reading this) made one latke at a time. She served each latke as if it was gold, then she’d go back into the kitchen to make another. The entire meal was painstakingly slow. Imagine dinner at the DMV. That’s the kind of slow I’m talking about!
By the time I was given a second latke, it was nearly midnight and I didn’t even want that second latke to begin with because it wasn’t my mom’s. It was this imposter latke. Sure, it had all the same ingredients, and my friend’s Bubbe even made it with love, but I can’t go around loving everyone’s latkes. Feh! (That’s a Yiddish expression of disgust, for any goys who might be reading this.)
The definition of insanity is eating latkes at your friend Marty’s house over and over and over again, year after year, Hanukkah after Hanukkah, and expecting to like his mom’s latkes more than your mom’s. It’s just not gonna happen, Marty.
Look, I hear how this sounds, okay? It sounds like I’m a little latke-intolerant. Like I’m maybe not giving other latkes a fair shot. And you’d be right. Fuck other latkes.
Did you know that the original latkes weren’t made from potatoes? Back in the days of Judith and the Maccabees (that’s – actually, just google it, goys), latkes were fried ricotta-cheese pancakes. It wasn’t until the mid-1800s, when a series of crop failures in Eastern Europe led to a potato boom, that your Bubbe’s Bubbe’s Bubbe started making latkes out of my favorite starch.
Which proves that flexibility can be a good thing. Imagine if the potato latkes we know and love didn’t even exist and we only knew the cheese kind? Okay, that actually sounds like a pretty delicious apocalyptic scenario. But I’d still miss my mom’s crisp, savory, made-with-love, better-than-your-mom’s, starchtastic, potato pancakes.
So what I’m saying is, maybe I should give your mom’s latkes another shot? Eat them with more of an open mind? Feh! I’m a one-mom man, and I only have eyes for my mom’s latkes.