I think Thanksgivukkah was designed for Jews in the South. After all, who knows better how to combine oil and food than Southerners? They perfected the art of frying chicken, green tomatoes, pickles, okra, moon pies (a southern chocolate/marshmallow/graham cracker delicacy) and fish accompanied by fried hushpuppies and French fries.
I even found a recipe for Deep-Fried Pecan Pie. How much more Thanskgivukkah can you get than Deep-Fried Pecan Pie!? Oh, I forgot…the deep-fried turkey, of course, a big southern specialty!
I am all for celebrating the holidays, and gastronomical celebrations are my specialty. But this Thanksgivukkah phenomenon is testing my culinary limits. You know I willingly and eagerly make potato latkes (hundreds of them) every year. I use plenty of oil and enjoy every greasy morsel. I even like the way the house stinks for days, inside and out. You can smell those latkes coming up the driveway.
I am willing to stretch my boundaries a bit for Thanksgivukkah—sweet potato latkes, maybe a few fried green tomatoes…but fried turkey?! What would Bubbe say? I have spent years perfecting her method of marinating the turkey overnight in a rub made with lots of fresh garlic, salt, pepper and a few other seasonings. I even use a little oil to rub down the turkey.
I’m not afraid of a little oil, but dunking a whole turkey in a huge vat of boiling oil is just taking this whole thing way too far. I can’t…I won’t…I refuse to do it!
On the other hand, I couldn’t resist calling a few friends to find out how they do it…and why! In the process, I was given a recipe, some helpful tips and an offer to come over and join in the fun. Everyone raved about the crispy skin, the moist tender meat and the amazing flavor. I also learned this is no job for wimps.
This year you will be in Israel for Chanukah. You will experience the holiday in the limelight. You’re already enjoying those Israeli fried jelly doughnuts and you’ll surely get your fill of potato latkes. You will eat chocolates and play dreidel and light menorahs filled with olive oil made from olive trees grown in your new “backyard.”
Chanukah will be the main event for eight days and nights of pure appreciation of a people who believed in religious freedom, put their lives on the line for it…and won the right to pray to the God they believed in.
We will miss you dearly at our Thanksgivukkah table this year, but I know that the tables you will eat at will also be filled with an abundance of thanksgiving and joyful celebration.
In the meantime, I will continue to work on combining my acquired southern Thanksgiving traditions combined with the oily mandate of Chanukah. The fried turkey is out, even though I have friends who have been frying their turkeys for years without even a hint of influence from Chanukah. Maybe I can turn the old standbys—squash casserole and corn casserole—into a fried corn and squash fritter (the southern version of a latke).
It’s worth a try…for a holiday that only occurs once every 70,000 years!