We read three latkes themed stories, in honor of Chanukah, today, starting with Leslie Kimmelman's The Runaway Latkes. I'm not sure why holiday food is always running away, or why children find it so funny - but they do.
Unlike the gingerbread men, latkes don't have feet, so they roll away, instead of running.
"Big and round, crisp and brown, off we roll to see the town! And YOU can't catch us!" is what they sing as the roll away from their maker, Rebecca Bloom, the Rabbi, the Cantor, two boys playing ball, a hungry dog, the mayor, and a pair of police officers. They roll through town, and to the river, where they meet with a Chanukah miracle, that has everyone returning to the synagogue for more of the tasty treats.
Latkes, Latkes Good to Eat, a Chanuka Story by Naomi Howland, also involves a Hanakkah miracle. In return for an act of kindness from a hungry young girl, an old women gives her the gift of a magic pan. When secret words are spoken, it produces latkes, until more secret words make it stop.
The girl, and her brothers enjoy days of hardy Chanukah meals, until one of the brothers overhears the words, and takes it on himself to make a snack. Unfortunately, he doesn't know the correct phrase to stop the pan. The story ends happily, though, with the whole village being invited to share in the feast.
Papa's Latkes, by Michelle Edwards, took us on a more serious turn. It is the story of a widower, and his two girls, celebrating their first Chanukah without their mother. The children loved the story, but I had a hard time getting through it - it is very sad.
Of course, after all the reading about latkes, we were curious to taste some. Howland's and Kimmelman's stories have recipes at the back, to try. Not being Jewish, we don't have anything to judge the oil fried, potato pancakes against, except McDonald's hash browns. And, they were better than that, so we're calling them a success.
Besides which, we had a very festive time making them, as everyone crowded around with an opinion. Were they cooking too long? Were they going to be burned? Would they be cooked on the inside? Why did the kitchen smell like fish? Would this be the day Mother finally managed to catch the kitchen on fire?
I'm glad to say they did not burn, and they did cook through. And, although the fishy smell of the hot olive oil is still hanging in the air, the kitchen is unsinged.
It's great to be a homeschooler.