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December 22, 2008


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I can report that the America's Test Kitchen version kicked latke tuchis last night. Meanwhile, twenty-three years since my Chanukah on Kibbutz Ein Hashofet, I have still not forgotten the way those sufganiyot linger in your stomach . . . I'll go for the latkes, thanks.

I knew it was a mistake to cancel that Cook's Illustrated web subscription. The latkes at the Dolphin Club last night were symbolic at best, but someone brought a blintz casserole that was to die for--probably sooner rather than later, given the quantity and quality of dairy products in the filling.

The big OED says only, "Yiddish, a. Russ. látka a pastry."

I have never enjoyed latkes but they're popular in South Africa. But I'll give them another try soon.

Yes, Jonathon is right; the OED does say it's from Russian latka meaning pastry, but the problem I have with that is that none of the Russian dictionaries I have consulted have that definition. Latka can mean an 'earthenware vessel' as the Shorter Oxford says, but in that sense it is a dialect word used in St Petersburg and the North. I got that from an online etymological dictionary. The Russian dictionaries I have at home (which are pretty good) give just one definition of 'latka' and that is 'patch' ie piece of material sewn on ragged clothing. So that could be it, with the latkes either being the shape of a patch or so-called because of the poor man connection as mentioned by Phyllis Glazer. I have eaten olad'i in Russia; they are small thick pancakes with yeast being an obligatory ingredient.

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