A latke is a potato pancake, traditionally eaten during Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights that ends tonight. Oil is central to Hanukkah, and this is where the Latke’s troubles begin.
Nearly everything in this world is born screaming, and the Latke was no exception… fashioned from grated potato, chopped onion, beaten eggs and a dash or two of salt. Once these ingredients were properly mixed, the Latke was slapped into a pan full of olive oil, heated to a very large temperature, and this is where it began to scream. The Latke who couldn’t stop screaming, screams his way out of the pan, jumps out of the window and into the night.
This may seem like unusual behaviour for a potato pancake, but this is a Christmas story after all.
The Latke stops running and screaming long enough to meet all sorts of odd Christmas things, like fairy lights, candy canes and a pine tree. He explains his part in Hanukkah, while the Christmas things want to co-opt him in to their own traditions. Which sets him off screaming again.
‘I’m not part of Christmas!’ cried the Latke. ‘It’s a totally different thing!’
I love how Lemony Snicket manages to pack so much factual information about Hanukkah into a classic picture book format – the journey of discovery that ends in the realisation that there’s no place like home.
Unfortunately for the Latke, home might be the place they understand him best, but it’s also where they want to eat him the most.