The Dirt: Hanukkah Edition

Hanukkah begins this Sunday, and while Thanksgiving and Christmas are pretty great as far as eating holidays go, Hanukkah, a glorification of all-things fried, is tough to beat. Fried latkes, fried doughnuts, delicious carb-and-custard-packed kugel, and braised meat. This is the kind of food to fuel full-contact holiday shopping and it beats the pants off of your mama’s green bean casserole. Even better? You’ll be able to pick-up lots of the things you’ll need for a proper feast-ival of lights at this weekend’s farmer’s markets.

Potatoes – The rule for the crispiest, tastiest latkes is starch. Keep your fingerling potatoes for another day because for crispy potato latkes you need the homliest, boringest, starchiest baking potatoes you can get your hands on. Look for russets or katahdins amidst the impressive variety of potatoes from Savoie Organic Farm at Headhouse, or just ask your favorite local grower for their starchiest option.

Sweet Potatoes – Dan Landis of Landisdale Farm is the undisputed king of sweet potato growers around here. Orange ones, white ones, and purple ones, in a variety of levels of starchy to sweet balance. Look for his sweet potatoes at the Chestnut Hill, at their new hours from 10 until noon tomorrow, and at Clark Park, too.

Apples – What apples are the best kind of apples to cook down for latke-dolloping sauce? Start with the humble golden delicious, tender Jonathans, or a mix of both. Core and chop them, but leave the skins on for added fiber and color. Cook them down with a little water until they’ve reached your desired level of sauciness. Markets are still bursting with fruit from Beechwood, Frecon, Hands on the Earth, and Three Springs.

Fermented Vegetables & Pickle Juice Shots – Look, if you’re gonna gorge on that much rich food, some probiotic goodness is the least you can do for that poor gut of yours. Food & Ferments is back in town this weekend at Rittenhouse and Headhouse selling kvass and vegetable ferments and pouring their draft kombucha and ginger beer. Get some of the goodness in there with a shot of their lacto-fermented pickle juice or pick up some of their fermented vegetables to add come color and crunch to your holiday spread. The tart flavor of their pickles will be the perfect foil to the fried stuff.

La Divisa Meats – If you’re the kind of heathen that serves cured pork as part of a Hanukkah spread, get thyself to the table at La Divisa Headhouse. Terrines, salami, and sausages make for tasty, if not treyf, holiday eats.