December 14, 2009

The Latke is Latest Symbol of Assimilation in US

New York, NY…The New York Times recently published an article titled “Non-Jewish Chefs Adapt Family Hanukkah Rites,” in which readers were told of a Jewish and Non-Jewish couple who managed to bond over traditional food in their various gourmet styles. It appears that you can now add the latke to such Jewish favorites as matzoh ball soup, flanken, chopped liver and gefilte fish. All of these foods appear on menus in many non-kosher establishments seeking to curry favor with “kosher style” consumers, a trend that also sends shivers own the spines of rabbis who are concerned about the potential confusion. Several rabbis pointed out that Balducci’s traditionally promotes a Passover menu without the food being kosher. They are particularly concerned that Yiddish sounding names for items like latkes might cause an unsuspecting customer to assume the product was kosher. The New York Times article revealed that upscale establishments, including a Paris bistro, are featuring latkes on their menus. One such restaurant, Chez Henri in Cambridge, MA, has created a potato pancake that includes beets and celery root and has a lacey appeal. Tom Colicchio of “Top Chef” has a Roman Catholic background, but he has created his own recipe for both regular and sweet potato latkes which he serves with toppings like sautéed mushrooms, caviar, braised short ribs, smoked salmon, sturgeon and, of course, sour cream and applesauce.