Jewish holidays are known for their food (except Yom Kippur, of course),
most of these foods are not known for being particularly healthy.
Chanukah is no exception. Forget matzah or apples, those are healthy in
comparison–pull out your deep fryer, because Chanukah is a celebration
of oil.

Soufganiyot (that’s
Hebrew for doughnut): Did you know that Homer Simpson’s favorite treat
is a traditional Chanukah delight in Israel? Deep fried dough, most
often filled with an injection of jelly, is how Israelis celebrate the
tiny cruse of oil found by the Maccabees. This tradition probably
developed from the custom among some Sephardi Jews to celebrate Chanukah
bimuelos, which are best defined as a type of fritter.

According to Jewishrecipes.org, the Greek Sephardi community eat loukoumades, a
popular, deep-fried Greek pastry comparable to a doughnut, coated with
honey and cinnamon. “Romaniotes, the Jewish community in Byzantine
Greece, called this pastry ‘Zvingous/Zvingoi.’… Today both Greek
Jewish communities, Romaniotes and Sephardi–who immigrated to Greece
five centuries ago–make these Chanukah treats.”

Latkes: (That’s Yiddish for pancake, in Hebrew they are called levivot): Read
any children’s Chanukah book today and you’ll find descriptions of
pancakes made of grated potato sizzling away in oil. But, potatoes were
only introduced into European society in the 1500s (they originated in
South America).

Prior to the
introduction of the potato to the latke, Ashkenazi Jews celebrated
Chanukah with cheese latkes. Same basic idea, yummy food fried into
pancakes. Dairy, however, has its own special connection to Chanukah.
Dairy foods were eaten as a reminder of Judith 
(Yehudit), who,
according to tradition, was a beautiful widow who beheaded an enemy
general by plying him with cheese and wine until he fell asleep (
read the complete story here).

Happy Chanukah. Now get out the griddle and enjoy!

This Treat is posted each year in honor of Chanukah.


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