Latkes, laughter bring different cultures together

Photo by Shelia Huffman

If we are ever to have peace in the world, we must know and understand one another. What better way can we learn about each other’s traditions and culture than through our great common love? Food!

Central Christian Church of Dallas (Disciples of Christ) invited Oren Saloman and Marta Skiba to join us in the church kitchen Saturday morning for a hands-on cooking class on the art of making latkes.

What are latkes? A simple answer — pancakes made of shredded potatoes. A more complex answer — a traditional food enjoyed by Jewish families during Hanukkah, representing the “miracle of the oil.” Luckily, Jewish restaurants and delis serve them year-round, so they can be enjoyed at every season.

The word “latke” derives from Yiddish, the Jewish language spoken by Eastern European Jews.

Latkes are a humble dish, originating in Europe as a peasant food, using only a few ingredients. But since some of the items called for in the recipe may not be staples in everyone’s pantry, I am sharing “where I found what” in Dallas for your shopping convenience.

Duck Fat: Both Central Market and Jimmy’s Food Store stock Duck Fat. (We used it for frying instead of vegetable or grapeseed oil.)

Smaltz: (chicken fat) Tom Thumb at Preston Forest has a Kosher section in their store. Smaltz is in the frozen food section of the Kosher area.

Matzo Meal: Common in most grocery stores. I found it at both Central Market and Kroger.

Potato Starch: If you do not use the item often, Central Market carries it in their bulk section, so you may buy only the small amount called for in the recipe. However, many people use it to thicken soups and stews, so it has a number of uses.

After the cooking class, we gathered in the church fellowship hall to enjoy the delicious golden latkes served with the traditional condiments of applesauce and/or sour cream, New York pastrami on rye bread and kosher dill pickles. We washed it down in deli style with Dr. Brown cream sodas and finished with cheesecake from Cheesecake Royale on Garland Road.

If you would like Central’s latkes recipe, contact the church office at 214-526-7291.

Church activities are open to the community and you do not have to be a member of the church to participate. Sunday morning worship is at 11 a.m. in the sanctuary and “Church in the Dog Park” is at 9 a.m. on the first and third Sunday of the month. All are welcome!

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