Brandeis course fields competition between Team Latke and Team Hamentashn – Brandeis University

Posted By on August 11, 2017

Are you Team Latke or Team Hamentashn?

By Julian Cardillo 14 and Caroline CataldoAug. 10, 2017

Deciding which of these two Jewish culinary staples is the most quintessentially Jewish would be much easier if there was a cook-off, tasting and debate pitting one against the other.

But look no further: Brandeis hosts such an event every year.

Students in the precollege programs class Culinary Art and Anthropology at Brandeis engaged in the third annual latke-hamentash debate on July 27 as part of the course, which seeks to deepen ones understanding and appreciation for Jewish cuisine and the role it plays in Jewish culture.

During the latke-hamentash debate, students turned into young chefs and worked with instructors Elizabeth Alpern and Jeffrey Yoskowitz, the authors of The Gefilte Manifesto, a cookbook featuring 98 modernized recipes of typical Ashkenazi Jewish dishes.

For Alpern and Yoskowitz, who have years of experience in the restaurant industry, teaching students about Jewish cuisine is a passion.

We found no one was exploring Ashkenazi Jewish cuisine, which was our culinary heritage, said Alpern. Theres this rich, beautiful tradition of Ashkenazi cuisine that has a really bad reputation in U.S. and has been slipping into irrelevance for our generation. But Jeff and I had enough exposure to this cuisine to say, Wow, this food is colorful, vibrant, multi layered and absolutely deserves to stay relevant for our generation.

For me its important to keep these recipes evolving, added Alpern. Food connects us to our place in the world, which gives value and meaning to our lives and contributes to the conversation about the multicultural world we live in."

For the debate, the audience, along with a panel of four judgesAlpern, Yoskowitz, Rabbi Charlie Schwartz and precollege programs director Marci Borensteincritiqued the freshly-made latkes and hamenstashn using strict criteria: presentation of food, taste and creativity. Judges also voted on which of two culinary staples they felt was the most quintessentially Jewish based on how the students explained the foods historic roots.

This year, victory went to Team Hamentashn.

This has been a great course and its open to everyone, whether you know a lot about Judaism and Jewish culture, or you dont, said Sabrina Axelrod of Minnesota, who was on Team Latke. Theres not just one type of cooking, I learned so many different things that I hadnt known before about Jewish culture. It really makes me appreciate the culture I grew up with.

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Brandeis course fields competition between Team Latke and Team Hamentashn - Brandeis University

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