The Miracle of the Oil
I don’t know how many more shopping days there are until Christmas, because Chanukah is upon us. Right now. It’s day three, and tonight will already be the fourth night. That means it is almost halfway over. Oy!
Chanukah is one of my favorite holidays. And no, it’s not because of the presents. It’s not because of the lights. It’s certainly not the songs. It’s because of the miracle of the oil.
Here’s the very very short story of Chanukah:
1) The Jews were oppressed. Again.
2) Against all odds, the Maccabees fought the Greeks and won.
3) The defiled Temple was rededicated.
4) An impossibly small amount of holy oil burned for eight days.
So, instead of celebrating this military victory of a small rogue band of guerilla fighters who took refuge in the hills and struck blow after blow against the mightiest army in the world, we celebrate the miracle of the oil.
And how does one celebrate that?
Fine. Traditionally it’s with potato latkes and sufganiyot. In lay terms that is fried potato pancakes and jelly donuts. But I’m no slave to tradition. The idea is to celebrate the oil. And in my mind that opens up the field to all fried foods.
A holiday that encourages the consumption of French fries, chicken wings, fish fry, onion rings, fried chicken, deep fried turkey, corn dogs, fried cheese, sesame balls, falafel, fried okra, Bon Chon Chicken, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
That, my friends, is the best holiday ever. And it plays to some of the culinary strengths of the region.
My favorite jelly donuts come from Bella Napoli in Troy. It is a crime that I have yet to make a Chanukah pilgrimage to this regional donut Mecca for boxes and boxes of jelly donuts. Luckily I will make up for my sins by buying an unholy amount of donuts just as soon as I can get there.
Still, fried fish has got to be healthier than chicken wings. Oooh, how I love chicken wings. I enjoy less traditional ones like the variety made at The Ale House in Troy. But I favor wings sauced in the classic Frank’s-Red-Hot-and-butter traditional Buffalo style.
Regretfully it seems unlikely I will be able to make it up to Hattie’s for fried chicken this holiday. But luckily for me Chanukah returns every year. And luckily for me, it lasts for only eight nights.
I don’t think my body could take much more.