Saturday, December 24, 2011

Solid Borscht (or Beet & Carrot Latkes)

Hello from Jerusalem! I've gone to the Holy Land for the holidays to be with some good friends who live here... and am learning a great deal from the intensity of life within a deeply interwoven knot of three major religions and their innumerable sects. A dizzying experience: mingling in with Greek Orthodox, Coptic Christian, Franciscan, and Ethiopian priests, pilgrims singing and kissing relics, and tourists looking bewildered at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, feeling the divine spirit with Jewish worshipers at the Western Wall and feeling out-of-step for not backing away from it, drinking sweet mint tea offered by Muslim vendors in the narrow, curving passageways of the old city and studying the façades of mosques I cannot enter. The vegetable backlog has grown past the top of my head, but here is a special morsel to tide you over through the holidays.

These are beet & carrot latkes, which are perhaps not so very strange, but I had only ever had the Hanukkah treat in its more traditional potato form. And thus, these make it into the pantheon of Weird Vegetables by virtue of their unorthodox chutzpah and extra-ordinary deliciousness. Made with love by my friend Zoe's mom Paula and eaten with generous dollops of applesauce and plain yogurt, these latkes caused one happy eater to exclaim, "Wow, together with the yogurt, it's like solid borscht!" Which, in our vegetable-loving context, is akin to saying "It's like solid gold!", but better because you cannot eat solid gold. The recipe is from The Joy of Cooking.

May you eat well and light some candles of love and merriment over these next few days.