Last night I made a gazillion latkes, and now my house smells like fried oniony potato. Yum.
I've actually never made latkes before, despite their ovewhelmingly delicious nature. (Does anything take as well to frying as a potato? I think not.) I have extraordinarily fond memories of scarfing up perfectly crisp potato pancakes in my grandma's kitchen every Chanukah. Mom reminded me this morning that my grandfather actually did the frying, which I can vaguely recall; more, though, I see both Gram and Poppoo in my mind's eye doing a complicated dance around the stove, trying to stay out of each other's way -- and most likely failing, but that was all part of the fun.
I did not follow my grandma's recipe exactly, since she used to use Crisco and I used vegetable oil last night. I also chose to forgo the time-honored secret ingredient of so many Jewish-family latke recipes (knuckles), so I chucked the box grater and used the grating disk on my Cuisinart for the first time ever. Spinny! Woo!
Yes, I have a warped sense of what is and is not fun.
And what is fun? Making several batches of regular potato pancakes and several of potato-zucchini pancakes with accompaniments of applesauce, sour cream, and horseradish sour cream. I also served a smoked salmon cucumber roulade, but I think I rolled it the wrong way, so when I tried to slice it it kind of, um, fell apart. (My guests and I inhaled it anyway, so I can assure you it still tasted good -- it just looked terrible.) Seems there's just something about having a bunch of good friends over for a lot of latkes that makes it a party.
There's also just something, at least with me involved, about it not being a party until something runs wildly amok. Last night, that moment came after the menorah candles burned out and we lit all the other candles -- and, briefly, the tablecloth, which was the second casualty of the night. It followed closely on the heels of the first, a wine glass, unfortunately full of wine, that fell prey to the power of the Wii-mote.
(Given how many wineglasses I have destroyed in my life just through my own klutziness, last night's Nintendo-related accident is still, to my mind better than putting a big hole in a wall we don't own, shattering a television set, or tearing one's rotator cuff. And I usually burn me when entertaining, not an utterly replaceable piece of inexpensive fabric. So I'm not unduly perturbed, I gotta say.)
I even found myself inclined to load up some holiday-ish music. The playlist comprised Hanukkah Rocks and New Orleans Christmas (thanks Rachel!!). The cheesy carols playing on endless loop at the mall get to me -- not that I have any experience hearing the same fifteen songs over and over and over for nine hours, no, not at all -- but last night's combination was the perfect musical antidote to all that.
My original reason for the having the party, I can now admit, was slightly selfish. I've been feeling rather Grinchlike lately, almost like I've been caught out of time in an entirely different part of the year. Having friends over, though, makes a holiday out of any moment. So while I still have to break out The Messiah at some point this week, and there's no snow on the ground? Last night was a pretty great holiday.