It's almost latke season. For eight days straight, all who are celebrating the Hanukkah can indulge in deep-fried, golden potato pancakes as an homage to the little jug of oil that miraculously kept a menorah lit in the Second Temple of Jerusalem for eight days when there only seemed to be enough for one.
Just like there are a bunch of ways to spell Hanukkah (Chanukah, Hannukkah, etc.) there are a bunch of ways to enjoy latkes. But whether you're having latkes made with regular potatoes, sweet potatoes, zucchini, potato and cheese, or even Brussels sprouts (if you're some sort of new-age monster), you should really be having them with applesauce.
Jewish people celebrate Hanukkah by consuming fried foods like latkes, as well as other foods cooked in oil during the eight-day holiday. If you don't know what they are, latkes are similar to hash browns. Just as you would happily put ketchup on your hash brown, you should be putting applesauce on your latkes.
Yes, it's popular to eat your latkes with sour cream. It's dairy, and dairy is delicious - we get it. However, latkes need a condiment that will cool the palate, cut through their latke-oiliness, add sweetness and add flavor - especially if you're making latkes from a bland box mix.
Applesauce is light and fruity, and when eaten on top of a piping-hot fried potato and onion latke, is a sweet and savory dream for your taste buds. The applesauce conceals the oiliness of the potato, while creating an explosion of fall food flavors in your mouth. Meanwhile, sour cream will just make your latkes heavier and your mouth taste like milk.
Since much of the holiday is spent eating oily foods, applesauce is also a healthier alternative to sour cream. Applesauce is low in cholesterol. Plus, apples naturally offer a ton of fiber, vitamin C, and potassium. If you load up your latke with applesauce, at least you're getting some health benefits!
Another reason to avoid sour cream is that if your Hanukkah meal has any sort of meat dish with it and you or someone in your family is keeping kosher, you can't even eat latkes with sour cream because the mixing of meat with dairy in your stomach (and even on your plate!) makes it non-kosher. Don't do that to Uncle Milt! Have applesauce as a topping so everyone can enjoy.
Speaking of visiting family members, if you're planning your first Hanukkah meal but don't know anything about the holiday's history, check out these 9 facts about Hanukkah food.