Food, food culture, food as culture and the cultures that grow our food

Chanukkah, the fesitval of
using oil responsibly

December 8, 2007

Dutch snackbar sign about certified responsible deep fryer oil
This Dutch snackbar certification sign says, ‘Heq yes, we fry responsibly. We use liquid fryer fat and we follow the rules of responsible frying.’

This year I decided to celebrate Chanukkah. Probably it’s because the past 4 months during the renovation of my home I’ve been so homesick that the story of my ancestors rededicating a sacred place resonates strongly with me. Tuesday afternoon I adhoc’d together a beautiful menorah and have been lighting candles every night. My goal is to move back home before the end of Chanukkah next Tuesday, and failing that, I’ve decided to continue celebrating Chanukah until I can move back into my home. Chanukkah in July.

Sound crazy? There’s historical precedence for all of this, although not exactly in this form. I hope it doesn’t take this form with me.

Without going into a shred of detail, the story of Chanukkah involves a one-day batch of sacred oil that miraculously stretched itself for eight days. During the eight days of Chanukkah, we light candles to remember the miracles, deliverance, and mighty deeds that both our ancestors and that we ourselves have known.

On the food front, traditional Chanukkah fare is fried in oil, liberal amounts of one hella lotta oil. Because there was this miracle with the oil, right? Now I don’t know why it took me so long to question the logic of this, but why do we celebrate this miracle of oil conservation by massively increasing oil consumption? Shouldn’t we be eating the opposite of oily foods? Shouldn’t Chanukkah be an oil fast, a holiday of raw and steamed vegetables and bike riding? Peak Oil for Jews?

Taken from the 1901-1906 Jewish Encyclopedia, now in the public domain

debra at 2:00 | | post to

1 Comment »

  1. Weird. Christmas without our personal christmas-jew. Will miss you

    Comment by Kristi — December 15, 2007 @ 15:56

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