Why is this year different from all other years? Because a caloric convergence of historic proportions is upon us. For the first time since 1888, Thanksgiving also marks the first day of Hanukkah.
California: Get ready to loosen your belts! That's right, the season of overindulgence is here. Why is this year different from all other years? Because a caloric convergence of historic proportions is upon us. For the first time since 1888, Thanksgiving also marks the first day of Hanukkah.
Comedian Stephen Colbert described it as "Thanksgiving under attack," on a recent episode of his TV show "The Colbert Report."
"How dare you Hannukah," Colbert joked. "These two holidays have nothing in common. Hannukah celebrates the struggle of an oppressed people's fight against invading oppressors. While Thanksgiving is about our healthy and nurturing relationship with the Indians!"
Jokes aside, some think Hanukkah is actually a better fit with Thanksgiving than Christmas. In fact, Lori Starr, director of the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco, finds a real echo between the story of Hanukkah and that of the first Pilgrims in a new land.
"Surviving that first winter and their search for religious freedom," she explained, "that notion is a parallel in the Hanukkah story of surviving a battle, being able to hold out, and ultimately it is a story of triumphing over all the odds."
But what about the menu? How are Jews going to celebrate both holidays at once?
Evan Bloom is co-owner of Wise Sons Jewish deli in San Francisco.
"Six months, nine months ago, Leo pulled out the calendar, looked at it and said, 'Holy crap! How are we going to do this?'" he exclaimed.
Bloom and his business partner Leo Beckerman sit in their cafe at the Jewish Museum, thinking about this very odd holiday mashup, which some are calling "Thanksgivukkah." Both grew up in Southern California and both have Hanukkah memories of their mothers and grandmothers cranking out traditional food, like brisket, noodle kugel and of course, potato latkes. Beckerman says his mom crowned herself the "latke queen."
“The potatoes that we used were always grated by hand," Beckerman explained. And the grater we used was from my mother’s grandmother. It was an old wire grater that, you know, the joke was ‘a little bit of blood in every latke.’ A finger always sort of gets in there!"
This year, Beckerman is intrigued by how the weeklong Jewish Festival of Lights will merge with America's favorite culinary holiday.
"Will they eat latkes at Thanksgiving dinner?" he wondered. "And is it turkey for eight days? Or is it latkes instead of stuffing?"
Evan Bloom says the Wise Sons Deli is tinkering with recipes for “latkes 2.0,” like combining potatoes with rye bread from the deli, adding carrots, celery and sage and forming them into little patties — like latkes.
"We’re playing with either a turkey gravy or perhaps a cranberry crème fraiche to go on top, which plays on the sour cream and applesauce you’d get on a latke," Bloom said. "And for us I think the guys in the kitchen are just having fun."
And get 'em while you can. According to one calculation, it'll be nearly 78,000 years before the first day of Hanukkah falls on Thanksgiving again.