Potato vs. Cheese

I have backed myself into a corner. Committed to potato latkes for the first candle of Hanukah, research for the blog has uncovered that as far back as the middle ages, the traditional Hanukah food wasn’t fried potatoes; it was fried cheese.

The use of oil stems from the miracle of one night’s worth of oil lasting for eight during the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd century BCE.

Also in the same time period, King Nebuchadnezzar of Assyria ordered his general, Holofernes, to conquer the city of Bethulia. A young widow, Judith, stepped forward to help. She pretended to seduce Holofernes by feeding him salty cheese and a large quantity of wine until he fell asleep. Using his sword, she decapitated him, wrapped his head in her shawl and brought it to the Jews who went on to destroy the Assyrian camp.

Over the centuries, the Judith story has become associated with the Hanukkah celebration because it reflects the important role of a woman in the triumph of Jews over a foreign enemy thus Jews ate all kinds of fried cheese.

The solution seems clear: two different recipes- one with cheese and one without.



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