Family united against dad in the Great Latke Debate

Yale Hollander is a dad, husband, legal professional and writer whose works have appeared in a number of local and national publications. He is currently a trustee of the St. Louis Jewish Light, however the opinions and viewpoints he presents in this blog are strictly his. Follow him on Twitter @yalehollander.

By Yale Hollander

There’s nothing like a good old fashioned Hanukkah celebration to remind me of my occasional pariah status within my wife’s family.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I have an outstanding relationship with my in-laws. My father-in-law is quite possibly the most-liked man in all of St. Louis and you can certainly count me among his fans. My mother-in-law possesses enough grace and charm to make Queen Elizabeth look like a Kardashian — any of them — in comparison. But Hanukkah brings about an enormous rift in our family fabric wherein it is all — my own wife and children included — against one (that, I remind you, is me).

You see, on the matter of latke condiments, I am Team Sour Cream; my wife and her family are Team Applesauce. And it’s not just that they’re pro-applesauce; they are vehemently anti-sour cream. They do not understand how I could possibly defile the noble latke when it was clearly intended to be a vehicle for the delivery of applesauce into one’s gullet. Even my precious 12-year-old daughter looks at me in disgust — and this is a child who will gladly render a baked potato completely unidentifiable beneath a mountain of the delectable cultured dairy product.

To put it bluntly, I am appalled by applesauce. I’m no fan of apples to begin with, so you can rest assured I don’t find them any more appetizing once they’ve been boiled for so long that they literally decompose into what can only charitably be considered a slurry. 


Do you know who loves applesauce? Babies. Babies love applesauce. Do you know why babies love applesauce? Because they’re babies and have to rely on a more evolved human being to feed them. Of course they’re going to love applesauce, because if they don’t, they’re either going to starve or they’re going to get fed a bunch of bronze-colored paste that comes out of a jar that says “Turkey and Noodle Dinner.” Given those alternatives, I’d gobble up applesauce with great relish too. And since I’m not a baby anymore, I choose not to eat applesauce. But I have the decency to keep my opinions to myself as I attempt to enjoy my latkes — adorned with sour cream — in peace. 

My wife will call me weird. My mother-in-law will say something eminently polite like “I don’t understand it, but it takes all kinds.” My father-in-law, well . . . this is a guy who will fry up a quarter pound of bologna, douse it with barbecue sauce and then eat it on raisin toast, so I can’t really take his culinary opinion too personally. 

To borrow a query from another holiday, why is this night different from all other nights? Because on all other nights I can usually eat unburdened by the glare of familial judgment. I am never going to win their favor on this topic, but at least I get all the sour cream to myself.

Here’s hoping your Hanukkah is filled with family, friends, fellowship, food and most importantly freedom — freedom to enjoy your latkes however you wish.