Clever Cookstr's Great Latke-Hamentash Debate
Jeffrey Yoskowitz and Liz Alpern, co-founders of The Gefilteria and authors of the upcoming cookbook The Gefilte Manifesto discuss the relative edible, aesthetic, and cultural merits of these two iconic Jewish foods in a special Hanukkah edition of the Clever Cookstr.
The Latke-Hamentash debate started at the University of Chicago in 1946, just after World War II. To raise spirits and celebrate love of Jewish food history, the professors there decided to put together a debate, bringing together top academics and scholars to use their disciplines to answer this most important question: Which is better: latkes or hamentashen?
While the debates are meant in good humor, they often get heated as issues of taste, aesthetics, culture, history, and even metaphysics all play important roles in various opinions on either side of the latke-hamentash fence. We invited Jeffrey Yoskowitz and Liz Alpern to the Clever Cookstr to hash out the latke-hamentash debate once and for all.
Liz Alpern's pro-hamentash roots run deep: she sees them as the ultimate Jewish cookie, with a historical resonance in their triangular shape. Their adaptability to different fillings like prune, poppyseed, and apricot, their ideal nature as a pairing for coffee and tea, and their giftability during holidays also rule in their favor. And Liz's version of hamentashen relies on the delectability of her pastry dough.
Jeffrey Yoskowitz, on the other hand, is eager to go to bat for the latke as a misunderstood delicacy, fried in duck or goose shmaltz, perhaps even made with other root vegetables like parsnips in addition to potatoes. Who can say no to these sumptuous, savory, fried delights? Plus, they're part of an important tradition of using the whole goose, duck, or chicken: leftover shmaltz can even be used to light the chanukkiah (or menorah) during Hanukkah!
Images courtesy of Shutterstock/Lauren Volo/Shulamit Seidler-Feller.