Many countries can claim these potato pancakes as their "traditional" dish, but, they are the NATIONAL DISH only of Belarus, where they are known as DERUNY. Latka is in fact a Yiddish word. Possibly most commonly associated with celebrating Hanukkah, with the oil used in the frying reminiscent of the oil from the Hanukkah story that kept the Second Temple of ancient Israel lit with a long-lasting flame that is celebrated as a miracle.
Me, I like them on the "morning after" when all the starch and grease help to ease the pain of the growing bile in my stomach. Not a pretty thought, but these tasty little guys really do ease my ache from a night of overindulging. There is no perfect hangover cure, but there are ways to address the symptoms....
Latkas are one of those ways.
The ingredient list is pretty simple. I will give them to you in ratio form, so you can make as many as you need (good rule of thumb, 1 potato per person).
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
That is all that is in a traditional Latka. I sometimes add a bit of diced green bell pepper to add some color, but this is certainly optional.
You can use a standard box grater to get the potato into the form you need for a Latka. But, a food processor makes fast work for prepping. Grate the potatoes, grate the onion. As you transfer them from the processor bowl, squeeze as much of the natural water out of the mix, and plop into a second bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.
Heat the oil in a heavy frying pan on medium setting. Form into pancake shape. You should get two pancakes from each potato you grated.
Fry them in the oil until they are golden brown on each side (takes about 5 minutes per side). Allow them to rest on a paper towel to allow some of the excess oil to wick off.
Serve with either sour cream or applesauce.
Scientifically, these combined with a little hair of the dog (a bloody Mary of mimosa) will indeed help your hangover. Me, the hair of the dog theory just makes me feel worse... But the Latkas make me feel better!
And now my New Year's Rant... These kids today... By god, in my day...
Wait, that's not really what I think. What I do think is that these kids today have a glorious opportunity to seize their day. I have aged disgracefully into an old hippie. In my day (1966), the artist Robert Indiana created the famous "LOVE SCULPTURE" that became a moving force of purpose for a generation. In 1967, John Lennon gave voice to that moving force when he wrote (and the Beatles performed), "ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE". That song was part of the first global link TV broadcast seen by 400 million people in 26 countries. That message created the Woodstock generation, and it inspired us to expand civil rights legislation, end an unpopular war, force ethical accountability from our leaders (Nixon), set us on a course to correct the environmental sins of decades of misuse and led the way to the largest expansion of the middle class that the world is still envies.
But all we (OK, I was only 8 in 1966)... All THEY did was start. Somewhere along the way, the "love" generation failed to followup. No less than President Reagan claimed the message of promise. His "Morning in America" ads (1984) convinced a generation of hippies that the message was more important than the policies. The year President Reagan ran his message of optimism, he won the popular vote in 49 states. The message of optimism of 1984 inspired voters (many aging hippies) to sweep a Republican congress in with the promise of a "Contract with America".
In 1966, we believed we could change the world. The powers that be stood up and took notice. The game was afoot, and the direction of a nation was nudged. But, my generation failed to keep their eye on the ball.
Yes, without the Civil Rights Actions of the 60's, we would not have President Obama in office. Yet, today there is a higher percentage of African American young men who's life will be defined by years in prison (10% in jail) than by years in college (8% have graduated college).
In the 60's and early 70's, our children were asked to sacrifice to the last full measure of devotion in a poorly defined war (I mean police action). Now, we are on the edge of an "escalation", sending thousands of additional young men and women to a war (OMG, it's still a police action) with no defined end goal.
When President Nixon decided to resign, it was for abuses of power, and not his personal life. The respected fourth estate (the media) recognized a "cancer" in the presidency and forced a change. With 24 hour news coverage, we should be examining the details of legislation and the impact. But instead, fueled by the ratings bonanza that a blue stained dress created, the people's airways are filled with sound bite minutia when complicated issues need a comprehensive examination.
In the late 60's, the Cuyahoga River in Ohio was on fire due to pollution from businesses using a public resource as a dump site. Los Angeles was being chocked from air pollution. These serious problems were examined, appropriate legislation to correct the problem passed, and slowly the business community recognized the need for a permanent change in attitude. But now, when the Earth is facing global climate change and the whole world is looking for leadership... Our leaders are silent.
For the first time in the history of "the Great Experiment" (the united States), polls show that our young people do not feel that their lives will be better than their parents. And statistics are backing that trend up.
2 years ago, the same artist who brought us the "Love Sculpture" altered the classic image to provide a message for a new generation. President Obama was land slided into office with a promise of the "Audacity of Hope". This new decade needs a Thomas Jefferson, an Abraham Lincoln, A Woodrow Wilson, A Franklin Wilson, A John Kennedy, A Ronald Reagan... At crucial moments in our history, a leader stepped forward and provided hope. A vision of a future better than the present.
On this day, when we look to a new year, and a new decade, I am looking for a new generation to take up the mantle of hope. It's never easy, but it has been done over and over again. There are a lot of us out there that want you to succeed. Some with financial resources to help. We just need to believe. We need hope.
... It's your turn to lead, there is an army of old hippies waiting to follow.
All you need is ... Hope
From The Blue Album
Love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love. There's nothing you can do that can't be done. Nothing you can sing that can't be sung. Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game It's easy. There's nothing you can make that can't be made. No one you can save that can't be saved. Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you in time - It's easy.