On the second night of Hanukkah, I was gifted something I never knew I needed: a video of a Jewish drag queen frying up latkes.
Miz Cracker, the stage name for 34-year-old Maxwell Heller who was a fan favorite on RuPaul’s Drag Race, joined Bon Appétit food director Carla Lalli Music in the test kitchen to cook one of Hanukkah’s most symbolic foods — potato pancakes. And yes, it was as fabulous as you’d expect.
Dressed in a tight, glitzy dress with a Jewish star printed on the chest, Cracker started off the segment by dropping some serious Jewish food knowledge. “The thing about Jewish cooking, especially Russian and Eastern European, is that it’s made by people who were put down, and didn’t have a lot of money, and who were often on the run,” she said. “So being creative and using ingredients that are easily accessible and in season is a big part of Jewish cooking.”
Although her family’s classic recipe only called for potatoes and onions, Cracker listed off a variety of optional latke — “lat-kuss” as she says — ingredients (you can find an array of recipes that don’t use potatoes here).
While Music squeezed excess liquid out of the pre-fried latke mush, Cracker became verklempt thinking about traditions that bring people together, like cooking holiday dishes.
“Judaism is one of those great things where it’s a religion and a culture, so we’re not just a religious group, we’re a family,” she said. “Doing stuff like this and celebrating family feels good, and even when you’re not with your Jewish family, you’re celebrating them.” Amen, sister!
The final product looked absolutely mouthwatering, so I don’t blame the chefs for stuffing their faces immediately. And it’s like Cracker said, “Latkes are like french fries: very good right away, but if you pull it out from your car seat a day later, not so good.”
Here’s hoping Cracker returns next year with a sufganiyah recipe.
Head image via Bon Appetit/YouTube