Latkes frying in olive oil
|Potatoes, flour, chicken egg, cooking oil|
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Potato pancakes are shallow-fried pancakes of grated or ground potato, flour and egg, often flavored with grated onion or garlic and seasoning. Potato pancakes may be topped with a variety of condiments, ranging from the savory (such as sour cream or cottage cheese) to the sweet (such as apple sauce or sugar), or they may be served ungarnished. Potato pancakes are sometimes made from mashed potatoes to produce pancake-shaped croquettes.
Background and history
Potato pancakes are associated with cuisines of many European and Middle Eastern century-old traditions including Austrian (as Kartoffelpuffer), Belarusian (as draniki), Czech (as bramborák or cmunda), German (as Kartoffelpuffer or Reibekuchen), Hungarian (as tócsni and other names), Iranian, Jewish (as latkes or latkas, Yiddish: לאַטקעס, Hebrew: לביבה levivah, plural לביבות levivot), Latvian (as kartupeļu pankūkas), Lithuanian (as bulviniai blynai), Luxembourg (Gromperekichelcher), Polish (as placki ziemniaczane), Russian (as draniki, драники), Slovak (as zemiakové placky,haruľa or nálečníky), Ukrainian (as deruny) and any other cuisines which have adopted similar dishes. It is the national dish of Belarus. In Germany, potato pancakes are eaten either salty (as a side dish) or sweet with apple sauce, blueberries, sugar and cinnamon; they are a very common menu item during outdoor markets and festivals in colder seasons. In Swiss cuisine, the Rösti differs insofar as it never contains egg or flour. It is a traditional favorite in southern Indiana during holiday festivities.
In the North-East of England (particularly County Durham), there is a popular dish known as tattie fish, because the pancake resembles a deep fried piece of fish. The pancake consists of flour, eggs, shredded potatoes and onions. Some people add tomato or cheese to the mix, depending on taste. A form of potato pancake known as boxty is a popular traditional dish in most of Ireland. It is made in a similar way but using more starch. The British also brought the potato pancake to Zimbabwe, Africa when Zimbabwe was a colony of Britain. They are still eaten today, where they are affordable.
The Swedish version of unbound potato pancakes is called rårakor. When prepared with a batter of wheat flour, milk, egg, and shredded potatoes and fried like thin pancakes, they are called raggmunk, the word "ragg" means crispy and "munk" derives from the Swedish "munkpanna", which is literally translated as donutpan. Both kinds are enjoyed with fried pork and lingonberry jam.
Polish monastic tradition
Potato pancakes, known in Polish as placki ziemniaczane, are often served in Poland topped with meat sauce, pork crisps or goulash, as well as sour cream, apple sauce, mushroom sauce, and cottage or sheep's cheese or even fruit syrup. Placki ziemniaczane was a food staple at the 17th-century Polish monasteries according to written recipe from Stoczek Warmiński with one onion, two eggs and a spoonful of wheat flour per each kilogram of potatoes, served only with salt and pepper. In the 19th century, especially in times of economic difficulty during the foreign partitions, potato pancakes often replaced missing bread among the peasants. The lower-quality crops given to field laborers were sometimes turned by them quickly into pancakes to improve taste and prolong freshness. Also, their popularity is closely associated with the historic presence of one of the largest Jewish communities in the world flourishing in Poland.
The largest potato pancake (possibly in the world) measuring 2 meters and 2 centimeters was made during the annual two-day celebrations of Świt Plinzy (Plinza Dawn festival) in Rzechta, Poland (see photo). The tongue-in-cheek games in Rzechta include the throwing of bad potato pancake, with the record of 29 meters.
Czech potato pancake is called bramborák and it is made of grated potatoes with egg, breadcrumbs or flour and seasoning (salt, pepper, most importantly garlic and marjoram; sometimes ground caraway seeds) and is served as it is. Some regional versions blend in dough, sauerkraut, and/or sliced smoked meat. The same potato dough is used also as coating of fried pork chop called kaplický řízek.
Latkes (לאַטקע) are traditionally eaten by Jews during the Hanukkah festival. The oil for cooking the latkes is symbolic 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. Prior to the introduction of the potato to the Old World, latkes were, and in some places still are, made from a variety of other vegetables, cheeses, legumes, or starches, depending on the available local ingredients and foods of the various places where Jews lived. Despite the popularity of latkes and tradition of eating them during Hanukkah, they are hard to come by in stores or restaurants in Israel, having been largely replaced by the Hanukkah doughnut due to local economic factors, convenience and the influence of trade unions.
The word "latke" itself is derived (via Yiddish) from the Russian/Ukrainian word латка meaning "patch." The word לביבה leviva, the Hebrew name for latke, has its origins in the Book of Samuel's description of the story of Amnon and Tamar. Some interpreters have noted that the homonym לבב levav means "heart," and the verbal form of l-v-v occurs in the Song of Songs as well.
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- "Mashed potato pancake recipe". All-about-potatoes.com. Retrieved 2011-12-25.
- "Potato pancakes recipe at "Whats Cooking Dad?"". Whatscookingdad.com. 2009-01-06. Archived from the original on 20120220. Retrieved 2011-12-25.
- "News Quiz: Special Holiday Edition". 2011 Southern Indiana Current Magazine. Retrieved December 8, 2011.
- "Recipe for ''rårakor'' on chef2chef.net". Recipes.chef2chef.net. Retrieved 2011-12-25.
- Krzysztof Kucharski, "Nie wszyscy pewnie wiedzą.." Gazeta Wroclawska, Poland, 2008-08-22. (Polish)
- Recipes. "Placki ziemniaczane". Kącik kulinarny (in Polish). Szlak Pielgrzymkowy - Święte Miejsca Warmii. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
- Krzysztof Kucharski, "Nie wszyscy pewnie wiedzą.." (strona 3). Gazeta Wroclawska, Poland, 2008-08-22. (Polish)
- Different recipes for "placki ziemniaczane" at Onet.pl (Polish)
- Editorial (August 2011). "Wysmażyli największy placek ziemniaczany świata (They made the largest pancake in the world)". Święto plinzy Rzechta 2011 in Echo Turku (Plinza holiday in Rzechta) (in Polish). Wydawnictwo - Przegląd Koniński (publishing). Retrieved December 31, 2012.
- "The Philadelphia Jewish Voice". Pjvoice.com. 2006-01-07. Retrieved 2011-12-25.
- Jeffay, Nathan (December 17, 2009). "Why Israel is a latke-free zone". thejc.com.
- Posted by DLC (2006-12-18). "Analysis of the word "latke"". Balashon. Retrieved 2011-12-25.
- Rachel Ray, Quick Potato and Carrot Latkes, The Food Network, Dec. 20, 2008.
- Philip and Karen Selwyn, [groups.google.com/group/rec.food.cuisine.jewish/msg/517874a7f50f71a1 Potato-carrot-onion Latkes], rec.food.cuisine.jewish archives, Oct. 11, 1998, 1:00 AM.
- Video Tutorial at Gipsy Chef