Monday, December 22, 2008

Hanukkah Eats

Happy Hanukkah to all my Jewish friends out there! Tonight is the second night of Hanukkah and my friend David and his wife, Ann, invited me to their Hanukkah party. It's hard to believe, but this is my first Hanukkah party, so I was interested to see what's served.

The first thing that caught my eyes were these cookies. I don't know if they're traditional or not, but they're definitely Jewish. I mean, they have the star of David and they're blue, which seems to be the Jewish color of choice for the holidays. I'm wondering if the blue has something to do with the Jewish flag? Behind the cookies are macaroons, which were nice bite sizes. And yes, these were the coconut version. David got these from Grand Bakery in Oakland's Grand Lake neighborhood. It's a really kosher bakery. There's been a few times I've wanted to check out this bakery but it was often closed to observe the Sabbath. I don't think I would make a good Jew because I'm constantly thinking of eating on the Sabbath. Oy-veh!

Now this is definitely something associated with Hanukkah and Jewish food, and that's the latkes. I have to say, I was disappointed that David didn't make this himself because he's made them before for my blog so I was expecting them to be from scratch. Instead, he got these also from Grand Bakery. They were OK, I'm sure the homemade version would have been better. But don't you think they kind of look like veggie patties? Oh, that's apple sauce that's traditionally served with them.

Oooh, now these are the kind of holiday food I can get into. They're sufganiot, which is a kind of jelly doughnut. (BTW, none of the Jews at the party could spell the name for this doughnut.) For Hanukkah, a lot of fried food is served because the story goes that the Maccabees who liberated the country didn't have enough oil to light the candles in the temple, but the miracle is that the limited oil was enough to last eight nights instead of just one. (I learned this story from "Friends.") Anywho, so a lot of food made with oil like deep-fried doughnuts are served. Some also believe the sweetness of the jelly inside represent the sweetness of life after years of suffering.

Along with the food, there were also some dreidel spinning. But actually a lot of the kids at the party were babies because David and Ann also have a newborn. So most of the dreidel spinning were done by the dads. Above, David lights his menorah. It was an interesting night to learn about a different side of this holiday season. And of course, it's always fun to get together with good friends, old and new.


Anonymous said...

Those blue cookies look so festive!

Anonymous said...

mmm I love latkes! and the jelly filled donuts looked really good, are those home made? Looks like a good time!

Nate @ House of Annie said...

Any gefilte fish?

Single Guy Ben said...

Yes Mrs. L, they were very blue. That's why I noticed it first.

Foodhoe, I think the donuts were from Grand Bakery too.

Nate-n-Annie, no gefilte fish in sight. Actually, I'm glad because I saw a jar of that once last Hanukkah and that's nasty! (I don't mean to put down the culinary traditions of another culture, but I'm sure there's a few Jewish people out there who don't understand how anyone can eat gefilte fish either.)

Anonymous said...

Hi Chef Ben -- about the color blue and the Jewish religion -- The Israeli flag is blue and white so that's the color combo that is usually used for all things Jewish and festive. BTW -- I'm glad there was no gefilte fish either -- can't stand the stuff. And when I was a kid I thought my mom was saying "filter fish" so I had a mental image of fish swimming through pollulted waters, capturing all sorts of heinous microbes, and then she expected me to actually eat it? Yikes! Anyway, Le Shana Tova to all.