Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

The Latke Dilemma

Y. Bromberg

“I was wondering if you felt up to frying your delicious latkes for my birthday party in two days,” I asked cautiously

Thursday, December 22, 2016


Photo: Shutterstock.

I ’ve known since I was a little kid that Bubby makes the most delicious latkes in the world. People used to line up outside her door during Chanukah to buy them. So I knew the treat I wanted most for my upcoming birthday on the fifth day of Chanukah. I loved the idea of treating my friends at school to a taste of Bubby’s heavenly dish.

Two days before the party I knocked on Bubby’s front door. “Yonah! What a pleasant surprise!” Bubby said, a brilliant smile lifting the wrinkles on her kind face. “You haven’t visited for so long!” “I’m sorry for not visiting more often,” I said, my cheeks reddening slightly. “Oh, don’t you worry,” she said, ushering me inside her warm, cozy little house. She sat me down on the old couch covered with her hand-knitted quilts. “I was wondering if you felt up to frying your delicious latkes for my birthday party in two days,” I asked cautiously. I noticed that her hands were shaking even more than usual and that she looked so tired.

“Oh...” Bubby’s face was anxious. “Sweetheart, I’ve been feeling so old and shaky lately. I’m just not sure I can make food the way I used to.”

“I understand! Don’t worry about it!” I said hurriedly, smiling reassuringly. “Maybe another time.”

Bubby was silent for a moment and then a fierce determination appeared on her face. She bustled off to the kitchen and returned a moment later wearing her famous, oil- and chocolate-stained apron with faded pink flowers. “Let’s see if your old Bubby still has some cooking talent left!” she said.

I followed her into her kitchen and watched as she began to work her magic. She cranked up her old gas stove, spilled oil into the frying pan, and began peeling potatoes over the sink. I watched as she laboriously grated the potatoes, then mixed them with grated onion and spices from large containers. After a few minutes, the smell of frying latkes filled the air.

“Here, Yonah, since this is just a test batch, you can try a fresh one right now!” Bubby said proudly, setting a plump, steaming latke onto a plate beside dollops of sour cream and applesauce. “Thanks, Bubby!” I said. But something was amiss. Instead of a golden outer layer, the latke looked burned and there was a smoky smell beginning to waft from it. I took a small bite of the burnt latke and instantly gagged.

There was way too much salt, an overdose of garlic powder that made my eyes sting, and instead of some other spice it tasted like Bubby had substituted hot paprika. “Nu?” Bubby asked with a huge, proud smile.

“Um, delicious!” I answered, trying not to let her notice my tearing eyes.

“Excellent! It seems I still have the magic!” Bubby cried triumphantly. “I’m going to bake a huge batch for your entire class! You’ll be so proud, just wait and see! It will be a birthday party to remember!”

“Okay… thanks Bubby,” I whispered. I slid the rest of the latke into my napkin when she turned to hang up her apron on its hook on the closet door.

I left her house soon after and immediately called my best friend, Zev. “Okay, buddy, we need a game plan!” Zev said, after I’d explained. “Whatever happens, you cannot bring those latkes to class! You’ll be laughed out of school!”

Related Stories

The Art of Comics

Sivi Sekula

Walk into any Jewish book store and the first thing to hit your eye is sure to be the latest kosher ...

Jolly Solly: Bright Ideas

R. Atkins

Miriam opened the box and admired the candles inside. She felt very grand having candles that had co...

I Have a Little Dreidel

Bracha Rosman

“Maybe he’ll think I’m upset he gave me an ordinary dreidel. You know, like I’m only happy he comes ...

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

The Fortunes of War
Rabbi Moshe Grylak We’re still feeling the fallout of the First World War
Some Lessons, But Few Portents
Yonoson Rosenblum What the midterms tell us about 2020
Vote of Confidence
Eyan Kobre Why I tuned in to the liberal radio station
5 out of 10
Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin Top 5 Moments of the Kinus
Day in the Life
Rachel Bachrach Chaim White of KC Kosher Co-op
When Less is More
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman How a good edit enhances a manuscript
It’s My Job
Jacob L. Freedman “Will you force me to take meds?”
They’re Still Playing My Song?
Riki Goldstein Yitzy Bald’s Yerav Na
Yisroel Werdyger Can’t Stop Singing
Riki Goldstein Ahrele Samet’s Loi Luni
Double Chords of Hope
Riki Goldstein You never know how far your music can go
Will Dedi Have the Last Laugh?
Dovid N. Golding Dedi and Ding go way back
Battle of the Budge
Faigy Peritzman Using stubbornness to grow in ruchniyus
The Challenging Child
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Strategies for raising the difficult child
Bucking the Trend
Sara Eisemann If I skip sem, will I get a good shidduch?
The Musician: Part 1
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer "If she can't read she'll be handicapped for life!"