Hanukah. Chanukah. Hanukkah. Chanakuh. or Potayto. Potahto. Latkes. Latkas.



It was purely the luck of the draw that there were only two dates left for the SIN advent calendar and one of them was the 11th. Since this year Chanukah begins on the 12th and we light the first of eight candles on Friday evening, the 11th, I grabbed the day.

You may wonder about the title of this post, but it’s just a little reminder that the name of the holiday is pronounced and spelled differently in English depending upon who is reading the Hebrew, and most people who cannot read Hebrew must rely upon English transliterations that are not written in stone.
The Hebrew looks like this Chanukkah (in Hebrew)
The first symbol/letter (read from right to left) is most often pronounced like the hard *ch* in the word *loch* as in Loch Lomond. Of course, many people find that sound difficult to say and instead will use a soft sound like the *h* in the word *hat*. The second syllable, is frequently mispronounced. It should be *noo*, not *nah*.
In the Hebrew you’ll hear in Israel, the last vowel sound is usually pronounced like the *o* in the word *cod*. Yes, not like an *a*. But that’s only one way of pronouncing that vowel sound. In Ashkenazic Hebrew, the vowel sound would be more like in the word *caw*. My grandmother whose first language was Yiddish, pronounced the holiday *Chanukeh*. Even in Yiddish, depending upon where you came from in Europe, the word might also be pronounced “Chanukey”!
No matter how you say it, or spell it in English, the most common meaning of the word is “dedication”. This link is actually the best one I’ve found about the holiday. It gathers together in one place, just about anything you’d want to know about Chanukah and its traditions.Still, for most of us, the food enjoyed at our different holiday celebrations are the things we remember the best.

The potato pancakes in the recipe below would have been gobbled up by the characters in my stories in Bend in the Road

Recipe ~ Latkes (European/Ashkenazic)
There are as many different latke (potato pancake) recipes as there are countries in Europe. <g> The one constant is that the pancakes be fried as most traditional foods associated with Chanukah use oil in remembrance of the oil used in dedicating the Temple. Recipes using dairy products are also traditional — but that’s another story. (If you click on the holiday link above, you’ll eventually find your way to the explanation for this custom.)

My grandmother never used a measuring cup or spoons, so each female in the family developed their own way of making latkes. Here’s a quick and easy recipe.

2 lbs potatoes (any kind works)
2 large eggs
Salt to taste
About a 1/4 cup of flour to help bind the mixture

  • Heat the oven to about 300 degrees to keep the finished latkes hot.
  • Oil for frying (I use canola, but any vegetable oil works. If you want to use olive oil, the taste is different and you must be more careful of the temperature of the oil)
  • Peel and finely grate the potatoes. (BTW, I don’t usually peel the potatoes, but scrub them very hard. More vitamins in the peel and I usually don’t grate the potatoes that fine. My husband likes the potato bits chunky.) Put them straight into cold water, then drain and squeeze them as dry as you can by pressing them with your hands in a colander. This gets rid of the starchy liquid, which makes the latkes soggy.
  • Beat the eggs lightly with salt, add to the potatoes, and stir well. Add the flour a little at a time until the mixture clings together a bit. Cover the bottom of a non-stick frying pan with oil and heat. Take tablespoonfuls, or as much as 1/4 cup, of the mixture and drop into the hot oil. Flatten a little, and lower the heat so that the latkes cook through evenly. When one side is brown, turn over and brown the other. Do not crowd the pancakes. Lift out and place each batch on the cookie sheet and into the oven until all the pancakes are made. Serve very hot with sour cream for a dairy meal or with apple sauce for a meal with meat as the main course.
You may add black pepper, chopped parsley, and finely chopped onion to the egg and potato mixture. I usually add about a 1/4 cup onion to my latkes. You can also substitute sweet potatoes, carrots or a mixture of the different veggies. Experiment. It’s fun.Links to other recipes
Ceciarchiata Taiglach –
The Jewish community in Italy has been present for a very long time. Jewish influences can still be found in traditional Italian cooking.
“Ceciarchiata means “chickpeas” or “little bits” in Italian. This festive taiglach is similar in nature to the French croquembouche, though it’s a crown, not a mountain. It is a spectacular centerpiece with its clusters of dough and nuts, and is totally addictive.”  http://tinyurl.com/ceciarchiata-taiglach

Sufganiyot – Israeli jelly donuts. Although this is a Martha Stewart recipe, this is the easiest (and one of the best) ones I’ve found.

For unusual and delicious recipes and wonderful anecdotes about Jewish communities in far-away places and far-away times, please check out these two books:

Happy holidays and Happy Chanukah or Hanukkuh or…

Jeanne Barrack

The Sweet Flag, was Jeanne’s first m/m story with IR/MC, erotic, and paranormal themes. She also is proud of her participation in the I Do! Anthology for marriage equality. Among Jeanne’s goals for her m/m writing are stories set in her cultural heritage, be they historical or paranormal — or both. With the publication of Bend in the Road, an historical novel set in the 1880s, Jeanne is well on the way to fulfilling this goal.

You can find out more about Jeanne’s m/m writing at

Advent Calendar Giveaway!

Jeanne is offering a very pretty small Israeli perfume bottle that can be used for a flask for a purse or as a decoration.

Simply check the link to the holiday and name one thing about Chanukah, leave a comment here and Jeanne will pick one winner which will be announced on Christmas Day.

33 Responses

  1. Happy Chanukah, Jeanne! I love Claudia Roden’s book for the personal histories as much as for the recipes. It’s simply wonderful.

  2. Happy Chanukah to you – and the recipes sound great.

  3. Happy Chanukah, sweetheart. My tummy’s rumbling, now…


  4. Happy Chanukah, Jeanne! Mmm, that Ceciarchiata Taiglach sounds gorgeous! It’s a shame there wasn’t a picture… I must google it 🙂

  5. Jeanne, I was hoping you’d show up! Happy Chanukah!

    As I recall, you said you’d make latkes for me. I’m still waiting. 😉

    Have you a dreidel? I once had a handmade wooden one, so primitive it was touching, but can’t find it now. I miss it.

  6. Oooh recipes too! Now I will turn into a couch potato, lol.

  7. Jeanne, I started this and realized I’d better eat first or I’d skip my doctor’s appointment and start making jelly doughnuts. Happy Chanukah to you and yours, however you spell it.


  8. Happy Chanukah, Jeanne! Thanks for the pronunciation guide. I’ve heard it pronounced (and seen it spelled) a dozen different ways but now I know the right one.

    I tried making latkes once. It was a disaster. They fell apart. I’ll have to try your way.

    Drop me a line and let me know how things are going.

  9. Happy Chanukah, Jeanne! I wish you the best, with tasty food, and hope you and your husband have a lovely holiday.

  10. Wonderful post, Jeanne! And I’m off to start grating potatoes! Yum!

    Morgan 🙂

  11. Thank you! Those sound fantastic! Glad this date was available for you. I love it when that kind of thing happens.

    • The recipes are really good.
      It was kinda spooky since it was pure chance.
      BTW, is the Hebrew lettering for Chanukah visible or is it a big red x like on my screen?
      If so, check out the link to the holiday to see it

      • I can see the lettering just fine. I’m on Firefox. I also have an old version of Safari, but it crashes when I try to get on here, so I’m not sure if it would display everything or not.

  12. I was a guest at a friend’s house for the recent Passover Seder. He is almost as sardonic as I can be and broke me up when he explained that many Jewish holidays follow the same basic theme: “They attacked us. We beat ’em. Let’s eat!” That’s certainly true of the Maccabees’ story. How grand that such events can metamorphose into menorahs, drindles and even latkes.

    Have a happy one Jeanne!

    • LOL!
      Well, not all holidays are like that, but Chanukah in particular.
      Pesach or Passover is my favorite holiday. It’s a grand time to share with friends. One year my folks had over one of our Irish friends and his cousin who was a priest. He said one of the blessings over one of the four glasses of the wine in perfect Hebrew. My grandmother also had made her famous raisin wine that year. Poor Eddie Doohan got quite a bit tipsy!
      Thanks, Ken

  13. I’d like to thank everyone who posted today.
    L’cha’im! To life!

  14. Happy Hanukkah, Jeanne. I’m always in awe of cooks who are so good that they have no need for measuring cups and spoons. My grandmother was the same. I am not so blessed.:)
    When my son was small, he got to celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas, and we had an interesting variety of food to try. It’s neat to hear your history and see these recipes.

    • Thanks, Mara. My hubby’s sister married a Sicilian and used to cook all sorts of Italian food. She had a Christmas tree up for all of Joe’s family. Her calamari was supposed to be incredible!

  15. Here’s the one most obvious thing about Hanukkah: you must light the shamash first with a match, then every other candle is lit with the shamash.

    • yes, indeed. The shamash first and then he lights the others.
      It’s funny how distant memories pop up. I just remembered my cousin Debbie that I used to babysit called the shamash the ‘mash.
      Thanks for commenting, Jolie

  16. What a very nice post, Jeanne. So far my holiday efforts have only extended to brownies. But I remain hopeful and ambitious.

    • Thanks, Josh
      When I was an activities director at a nursing home in DC, we used to have massive Holiday Bake sales.
      I’d come home smelling of cookie dough and fingers tinted with colored sugar!

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