This year I wanted to really give my annual Chanukah bash a global touch. Over the years I’ve been fortunate to have relatives and friends share the delicious holiday recipes and traditions of their ethnic backgrounds.
My Italian-Jewish friend, Fran Salom, lives in New York City and takes pride every year in hosting an elaborate Chanukah meal. Her Italian roots are featured in a menu including Chestnut Flour Latkes with pine nuts.
My Baltimore Russian friends, Inna and Eric Badalov, have always celebrated Chanukah with “lots and lots of potato pancakes” but especially look forward to the strudels, cookies and nut tortes that Eric’s mother prepares. The Badalovs recently opened an upscale European pastry shop called Dazzling Desserts in Pikesville. Inna specializes in “absolutely from scratch” recipes baked on their premises. Specific Chanukah desserts will include Baltimore’s “Old Pimlico Cake” (scaled down to a lean five layers instead of seven!).
My special 1998 Chanukah dinner will include a little of everything but always a “Latke Bar,” overflowing with mostly traditional as well as some innovative pancakes and toppings.
Gift giving is limited to each person bringing a wrapped inexpensive novelty item that we spend hours trading and laughing about. We begin with drawing numbers out of a hat, the last number drawn is the luckiest as they have the choice of ending up with the gift of their choice. Followed by a game of Charades, it is truly a night of delicious food and fun.
Ilene Spector is a local free-lance food writer.