Ketchup is the Only Good Latke Topping. Hear Me Out.

Fried potatoes and ketchup are a classic pairing.

I love ketchup. Like, I really love ketchup. Sometimes I get carried away and eat it with steak, or use it in place of tomato sauce with spaghetti. If you’re yucking my yum, I totally get it. Ketchup isn’t for everyone! Like a true Jew, I won’t try to make a ketchup convert out of you.

But there is one controversial pairing I will defend until the end of my days — latkes with ketchup. 

If I’m hankering for something sweet, a dollop of sour cream and a scoop of my mom’s homemade applesauce will do the trick. But if I’m in the mood for something savory, you bet your tuchus I’m going to grab a red bottle of Heinz. But for Jews who believe in preserving the sanctity of traditional Hanukkah grub, the thought of dipping a latke into a pool of ketchup seems to requires a trigger warning. 

“Unacceptable and weird!” my roommate exclaimed when I asked for her thoughts on my hot take.

“Not in the spirit of the chag [holiday],” another friend added. “Mott’s ’till I drop.” 

I may be overzealous about ketchup, but what’s so wrong about eating it with latkes?! If tater tots and french fries — foods that have practically the same recipe as latkes — are globally approved ketchup foods, why aren’t latkes? The injustice is honestly paralyzing — a fried potato is a fried potato is a fried potato. 

One friend made a more compelling argument against ketchup: “Using ketchup kinda reduces our festive latkes to the status of mere hash browns or other plebeian potato noshes.” But it wasn’t compelling enough. 

It’s sweet to regard latkes as superior to “plebeian potato noshes,” and maybe it’s true — but in what world does ketchup diminish the value of a potato pancake? Certainly not in my reality. 

If latkes and ketchup disgusts you but you eat all other fried potato grub with ketchup, your tastebuds are hypocritical. I understand the desire to preserve the Jewish tradition of applesauce and sour cream, but I won’t stand by and let haters talk smack about a perfectly normal combination.

I was raised to fight for what I believe in, and I believe with every fiber of my being that ketchup with latkes is, in fact, good. 

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