most years i have made the traditional potato latkes with my dad. the making is a tradition in itself, the ceremonial changing of shirts - me wearing one of my dad's big t-shirts - the swathing of the kitchen in aluminum foil, the scrubbing of the potatoes.
and the conversation is also ritual. we discuss whether or not to peel the potatoes, we comment that the meal is so unhealthy - unlike spaniards we don't keep a deep fryer on our kitchen counter, this is a special occaison. but, we say, it's just once a year. then the stories, how as a child aunt joan used to eat fifty latkes by herself when my grandfather would make them. my aunts and father would eat them fresh off the stove, as fast as they were made.
and the grating of the potatoes. every year as we toss the potatoes and onions into the cuisinart we harken back to the days of hand grating, every memory exaggerated by the continued retelling. papa would spend hours, hours! grating those potatoes by hand.
so it was that this year i thought about my grandfather and his toils as we hand-grated the 3kilos of potatoes for our hanukkah party in madrid - no cuisinart i'm sorry to say. but here's a secret: between you me and papa, the hand grating really isn't that bad.
related: my friend joie wrote an op-ed piece about anti-semitism in iran. check it out.