It’s the perfect combination to make a Southern Hanukkah.
Growing up in Memphis, Tennessee, I was familiar with many things that I assumed were part of everyday life. Everyone loved basketball and supported the Memphis State Tigers. My lunchbox was always stocked with banana sandwiches and peanut butter. Graceland hosted my senior prom. We always had a Jewish family. Corky’s BBQ brisket Alongside my mom’s potato latkes for Hanukkah dinner. These were unique Memphis customs that I only realized when I moved to the east coast for college.
I clearly remember my college friends talking about Hanukkah. I would tell them what the standard meal was to celebrate the holiday. Festival of Lights. I told you how my mom made her famous by using a factory-like process. potato latkes In large quantities, she also provided the latkes to all the family gatherings that we held over the eight-night period. Because I had a large family, we would spend each of the eight nights with different groupings of family members or friends but whether we hosted or went to someone else’s home, Mom brought the latkes. This was a constant. A second staple was also on the menu, and it was at least twice during this week of celebrations. Corky’s BBQ brisket. A college friend of mine who was Jewish and grew up in New Jersey was shocked to hear this. “You eat BBQ for Hanukkah?” he said in complete disbelief. I replied with equal astonishment, “you don’t?” So it was only then that I realized that my Jewish traditions had, in fact, been influenced by my Memphis upbringing.
But it wasn’t unusual for anyone else who grew up Jewish in Memphis. While much of Memphis’s barbeque identity is tied to pork and ribs, pork isn’t Kosher. So for members of the Jewish community who observe this rule, Corky’s has long been our spot for BBQ because they serve delicious beef brisket. This Memphis landmark is a great choice for potato latkes, thanks to its drive-thru window at its original location on Poplar Ave.
Beyond just Hanukkah, Corky’s has also routinely catered strictly Kosher events by cooking in the Kosher kitchens of the synagogues around town. Jimmy Stovall, owner of Corky’s, explained to me recently that when they acquire a new smoker they prepare a round de brisket to sell to Jewish members.
Latkes can be paired with a traditional brisket but I think BBQ brisket would be a great match for my delicious fried potato pancakes. Y’all should try it our way this year. (They ship nationally!)
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