I know that Hanukkah has crossed your radar this past week, whether you are Jewish or not. It fell so early, and Thanksgiving so late, that they crossed paths. So the Internet was abuzz with Thanksgivukkah recipes and memes.
But most years it goes by unnoticed by gentiles. Which, to be fair, is no bigs because it’s not exactly the Christmas of the Jewish holidays anyway. But it’s still nice to have something on our side to rival with all of the merriment that we don’t participate in. (When I say “we”, I mean my fellow Jews. Personally, I celebrate both in a non-religious way.) But, just to keep it all on your minds as it comes to a close, I wanna tell the story of Hanukkah my way and give you some fun pop-culture Hanukkah videos to watch that aren’t Adam Sandler on Weekend Update.
A Fontina Turner Brief History of Hanukkah: There was this dude Antiochus who was like, “Boom, Jerusalem, I conquered you. But you know, whatevs, keep doing what you’re doing.”
But then his son, also Antiochus, was a giant dickhole and was like, “Yo, I’m not as cool as my pops. I’m gonna attack ya’ll and ruin the fuck out of your temple. You aren’t allowed to practice your shit no mores.”
So this family, the Macabees, were like, “Um. Fuck this,” and they revolted. Lead by Judah ‘the Hammer’ Macabee (of Asgard?) they took the Temple back. They needed to get their shit together and they only had enough “special oil” for one night. But it lasted eight nights, which happens to be how long it took Amazon to deliver them some more. (Amazon was slower back then.)
So there you have it. Eight days to celebrate a badass family taking matters into their own hands. So this holiday, unlike some of the others, is strictly celebratory. So you have a good time, you fry latkes and sufganiyah in oil, you play games and you light candles. (Or if your cats are little bitches, you turn on your electric one.)
So, it’s not Christmas. It’s not the turning point of our entire religion. It’s just a story about the strength of our people to overcome the bullshit. So to say it’s underrepresented in pop culture is probably a little unfair. But the timing of the holiday, being so close to Christmas, makes it seem as though it should be a bigger holiday than it would otherwise be. But don’t be fooled, there’s some great stuff shat out onto television for our Hanukkah enjoyment. Check some of them out:
Firstly, if you want a fucking adorable telling of the story, there’s The Rugrats episode that tells the story of Hanukkah. I think they curse less than me. But “a Macababy’s gotta do, what a Macababy’s gotta do.” There’s even a pop-up story torah scroll. Freaking ridic-cute.
If you’re my audience, you’ve probably seen them, but there are South Park’s holiday episodes. During the episode where Mr. Hankey introduces Christmas songs, they do an awesome version of Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel. There’s also the awesome episode where Mr. Hankey is introduced and Kyle sings his song, Lonely Jew on Christmas.
I can’t end this piece without mentioning A Colbert Christmas which I absolutely loved. Jon Stewart’s appearance and Hanukkah song just made it that much more adorable and festive. The boys were even color-coded. (Or should I say color-coated!? No, no I shouldn’t say that.)
Lastly, and this isn’t really a Hanukkah piece, but the This, You Call a Wonderful LIfe? was an adorable SNL skit that was a Jewish take on the Jimmy Stewart Christmas classic. Andy Samberg did some nice yelling about corned beef and Nasim Padrad ends the skit with “Everytime a bell rings, you should get your prostate checked” and everyone goes home happy.
So that’s my roundup of my favorite Hanukkah clips. I’m going to leave you guys with my favorite latke recipe. It’s adapted from a legit amazing recipe I found online and I’ve tweaked it to make it a little easier and a little more budget friendly. It’s just as remarkable this way and you’d convert to Judaism for these latkes. Seriously.
Coconut Latkes with Cranberry Applesauce and Spiced Mascarpone
(Adapted from MyJewishLearning.com)
- 2 cups (2/3 pound) russet potatoes, washed and peeled
- 1 cup shredded coconut
- 2 eggs
- 2 tbsps flour
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 1 cup applesauce
- 1 cup whole-berry canned cranberry sauce
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 /2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tbsp brandy (if desired)
- 1/4 cup mascarpone
- 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1 tsp powdered sugar
Make your condiments first. In a bowl, mix your applesauce ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Then add your sugar and spice to your mascarpone cheese. Cover and refrigerate that too.
To make the latkes, start by shredding your potatoes with a grater.* Ring out all the moisture with a strainer and paper towel until all the moisture is gone and then add in the coconut, eggs, flour, sugar and salt and combine.
Meanwhile, heat up canola oil in a large sautÃ© pan. Scoop two-tablespoon dollops of the potato mixture and flatten lightly and fry until golden brown, about 3-5 minutes. Then flip and fry the other side. Drain on a rack over paper towels.
Garnish latkes with applesauce and mascarpone. Sit in front of your computer and watch all of the above videos while scarfing them down.
* Fun trick. You can substitute the frozen hash brown, shredded potato thingies. Just thaw them and squeeze out all the liquid. Then you don’t have to grate potatoes.
Fontina Turner, a food blogger and graphic designer from Philadelphia, makes classy-as-fuck comfort food and consumes an unhealthy amount of cheeses and craft beers. She can be found in the kitchen, at the bar, on Twitter or trying to make H. Jon Benjamin love her. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.