Lucky for us already, it’s kosher to eat latkes year-round -- not just for Hanukkah. They are so simple, so delicious, but so complex in meaning and history.

Lucky for us already, it’s kosher to eat latkes year-round -- not just for Hanukkah. They are so simple, so delicious, but so complex in meaning and history.

The latke is a basic potato pancake held together with egg and flour or, preferably, matzoh meal.

The irreconcilable conundrum is that there were no potatoes when latkes supposedly were invented. That’s their main modern ingredient.

Best guess is early ones were crafted from grated cheese bound by egg and deep-fried. Not a bad thing to try. Not to worry. Even Europeanized with potatoes, these are too good to miss.

The latke is credited with ending an Assyrian siege of the Jews. Judith fed a batch to an Assyrian chief, who quickly fell asleep and lost his head. So watch it.

The fried cheese remained on Jewish tables until the 18th century, when someone got the idea to use grated potatoes. When German Jews came to America, they brought latke recipes more than 100 years old. Jews now consider potato pancakes latkes, though not authentic.

Beware: You must use high-starch russet potatoes, which we call bakers, or your pancakes will fall apart into hash browns. Allow the starch to weld the ingredients in the fridge for at least an hour.

Beginner latkes are about 2 inches in diameter, easy to flip without breaking. Latkes in Jewish delis will be much larger.

Do not be overwhelmed by the latke’s reputation. Once you get the basics, they are easily prepared. Note that these were a staple of the pioneers in Conestoga wagons.

The dish being Jewish, it continues to undergo deep psychological examination, including feminist and postmodern theories. One anthropologist presumes that the circles and triangles that denote men and women on kinship charts actually are latkes.

This, of course, suggests that latkes, which taste best when made by Jewish grandmothers, are “part of the oppressive apparatus upholding the most retrograde patriarchal elements of Judaism.”

Don’t worry, the notion of wrongheadedness often is displayed in Jewish latke debates.

That aside, try some, but try not to make assumptions. That means serving the obligatory sour cream, yogurt and applesauce on the side, not the top.

LATKES (JEWISH POTATO PANCAKES)

2 large baking potatoes, peeled and grated
2 green onions including green tops, chopped
1 egg
1 tablespoon flour or matzoh meal
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Salt and white pepper
Sour cream or plain yogurt
Applesauce

Rinse and peel potatoes; grate into paper towels. Fold towels and squeeze out moisture,

Beat together potatoes, onion, flour and egg. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour to allow starch to bind.

Heat  oil in a large skillet. Drop batter in 1/4 cup at a time. Fry to a golden crisp and drain on paper towels. Season with salt and white pepper and serve warm with sour cream and applesauce on the side. Serves 4.

Jim Hillibish writes for The Repository in Canton, Ohio. Contact him at jim.hillibish@cantonrep.com.