Tonight (8 December) is the 7th night of Hanukkah. What better way to celebrate than with Jewish Drag Race star Miz Cracker as she prepares latkes?
Latkes are a traditional Hanukkah food made from fried potatoes. The reason Jews eat fried food during Hanukkah is to celebrate the miracle of one night’s worth of oil burning for eight days in the story of the holiday.
Miz Cracker (aka 34-year-old Maxwell Heller) met with Carla Lalli Music, the food director for Bon Appétit magazine, to prepare these potato pancakes.
Miz Cracker, dressed in her gold Hanukkah best, begins the segment sharing her knowledge of Jewish foodie history. For instance, the fact that latkes only became associated with Hanukkah in the 1850s. The latke recipe the duo is working from is actually one from Miz Cracker’s family. The main ingredients being potatoes and onions. But Cracker notes that latkes can be made with anything from Matzo meal to cheese.
‘The thing about Jewish cooking, especially Russian and Eastern European, is that it’s made by people who were put down, and didn’t have a lot of money, and who were often on the run,’ Cracker says. ‘So being creative and using ingredients that are easily accessible and in season is a big part of Jewish cooking.’
As Cracker and Carla work on the latkes, Cracker gives some advice to those working with limited counter space (hello, New Yorkers). ‘Make sure you have a dry surface to rest your spatula because it’s going to go in the oil,’ she says. ‘And if you get water in the oil, you’re gonna have oil all over your face.’
‘I’m feeling a bit emotional right now,’ Cracker says. ‘Because I’m just thinking about how traditions like this can bind people together.’
‘There are a lot of religions in the world, but Judaism is one of those great things that is a religion and a culture. We’re not just a religion, we’re also a family.’
‘So doing stuff like this and celebrating family feels good. And even when you’re not with your Jewish family, you’re celebrating them.’