COLLECTOR: “Do you know how to make latkes?”
INFORMANT: “I mean, it’s like really easy.”
C: “So, how do you do it?”
I: “You just take a bunch of potatoes and an onion—or three or four if you’re my dad—and put them through the spinny grater thing in a Cuisinart. And then you can wring it out with a towel, and mix it with flour, and salt, and an egg, and I think sometimes baking powder. And then make… patties… and you fry them. In like a bit of oil—not too much.”
C: “How long do you cook them for?”
I: “Just, like don’t burn them. I mean, I like mine kinda crispy. And raw potato is disgusting. Don’t try it.”
C: “And do you just eat them plain?”
I: “Yes… I do. Remember to put them on a paper towel to soak up the oil, first. And most people like applesauce or sour cream or other weird stuff on them, but why?… I’m a potato purist.”

I decided it would be interesting to see if I could collect religious folklore from someone not particularly religious, so this recipe comes from teenaged girl, who is ethnically Jewish, but neither practicing nor bat mitzvahed. I simply asked her to explain different components of how she celebrates Chanukah. The cooking of latkes has become so ingrained in her as part of the Chanukah tradition that, from her nonchalant description, it seems an almost thoughtless process, now. The folkloric quality of this traditional recipe is clear, though the lack of any measurements, heats, times, or anything quantifiable in the instructions; a major part of being able to cook them properly is intuition gained from seeing and helping others cook them over and over again.