"Leola Root Latkes?"
by Margaret Berger (MaisieRita@aol.com)
(Voy, C/P, 1/1, PG for implied m/m relationship)
A brief nonsensical interlude set in the Sweet Dreams universe. Happy Hannukah, everyone!
Disclaimer: Paramount owns Tom and Chak. The recipe for latkes is from my mom, which is probably from her mom, which is probably. . . well, you get the picture! Warning: PG only for implied m/m relationship, but nothing remotely graphic. Blink, and you‘ll miss it.
Feedback: Please! Anything but flames gladly accepted at the above edress.
The cheery whistling in the semi-darkened mess hall could only have come from one source. Chakotay thought blearily that no one ought to sound that . . . awake . . . at 0300. "Computer, full illumination."
Tom looked up from the counter where he was busily working. "What are you doing up, Big Man?"
"I rolled over and you were gone. Thought you‘d taken to leaving in the middle of the night again."
Tom laughed merrily. "No. Just had a sudden impulse to do a little cooking."
"0200. I‘ve been here for an hour already."
Chakotay settled himself on the other side of the counter and looked at the ingredients Tom had displayed, rather messily, in front of him. Scrubbed and peeled potatoes. Onions, which he was in the middle of chopping. Some eggs, nicely beaten. Flour, or something that looked like it. Salt and pepper. A big frying pan full of oil sat placidly on the stove. Chakotay wiped at his eyes as the onion scent wafted towards him. "What are you making?"
It was an entirely unenlightening answer, and the universal translator was no help. "What?" "Potato pancakes," Tom said patiently, as if that explained everything. When Chakotay still didn‘t show any signs of comprehension, Tom added, "For Hannukah." "Oh." It was, Chakotay reflected, entirely too early in the morning to be thinking this hard. He watched Tom patiently dicing the onions and struggled to come up with a logical explanation for it. Failing miserably, he asked, "Why?"
"Why are you making lakkuhs?"
"Lat-kes," Tom said with a grin. "I already told you. They‘re for Hannukah. It started tonight, you know."
Actually, Chakotay hadn‘t. Anyway, even knowing that the holiday had started didn‘t help. "Tom, you‘re Irish."
Tom nodded, and passed Chakotay a grater and a chunk of potato. "If you‘re going to be sticking around, Teddy, make yourself useful."
Chakotay started grating the potato while still struggling with the absurdity of it all. "You‘re Irish," he said again.
"Yep," Tom said. "And Scottish, and Welsh."
Tom nodded again. "Nominally."
"So . . . " Chakotay found his logic failing. "Tom, Christians don‘t celebrate Hannukah."
"Not usually," Tom agreed, starting in on his own potato with quick, sure strokes.
"Then why are you making these potato things?"
"*Latkes*," Tom said patiently. "If you can‘t pronounce it, I‘m not going to give you any. And I‘m making them because Neelix served some tonight that he‘d made with leola root." "Oh." Chakotay avoided anything with leola root like the plague, which explained why he hadn‘t seen them. "I guess they weren‘t any good?"
Tom shuddered. "You can‘t even imagine. If Miriam had been here, she‘d have hit Neelix right over the head with a frying pan."
"My great-grandmother. " Tom picked up another hunk of potato and began to grate it. Chakotay was still struggling with his first.
Great-grandmother. Miriam. Finally light began to dawn in Chakotay‘s foggy brain. "She was Jewish?" "Barely. Completely unobservant. Her family had been intermarrying on and off for generations. They didn‘t keep any of the traditions. Except one."
Tom grinned. "Got it in one, Big Man. Every year for the first night of Hannukah, she‘d fry up the biggest batch of latkes you could imagine. All the kids and grandkids and great-grandkids would be there, peeling potatos and grating onions. Miriam would have ten frying pans going at the same time. We‘d eat until we were sick. It was great."
"Even the families that weren‘t Jewish?"
"None of us were Jewish, Chakotay."
"None of you?"
"Nope. I think I‘ve got a couple of distant cousins somewhere who might be, but I‘m pretty sure they emigrated to New Jerusalem a long time ago."
Chakotay was trying to absorb it, and not paying much attention to the potato in his hand, when suddenly- "Ouch!"
"Nicked myself." Chakotay shook out his finger and started sucking off the blood from the small cut.
Tom was grinning. "Good. They‘ll be authentic now. Miriam always said the blood made ‚em taste better."
"She did, did she?"
"Yeah. She was quite a character. You‘d have liked her."
"Sounds like it."
Chakotay watched, sucking gently at his finger, as Tom mixed all the grated potatoes together with the onions, the eggs, and the flour-like substance. "Matzoh-meal," Tom said absently. He turned on the stove and watched the oil start to bubble. "So," Chakotay asked consideringly, "Neelix made leola root latkes and they offended your sensibilities?"
"More or less. I can live without latkes, Teddy. I just can‘t live with disgusting latkes. The small percentage of me that‘s Jewish rebelled."
Chakotay moved back a bit as Tom dropped the first batch of batter into the sizzling oil. "You could have just replicated some and saved yourself the trouble." Tom was shaking his head. "No way. You might as well not bother. Replicated latkes have no character and less taste. At any rate, there‘s something about the oil that‘s important. Miriam always said if you don‘t fry ‚em yourself, you‘re missing the whole point." "Which is?"
"I don‘t know," Tom admitted. "I don‘t really know anything about the holiday."
"You should look it up," Chakotay suggested. "It‘s part of your heritage." Tom nodded thoughtfully. "Maybe I will. It‘s probably an interesting story." He took a deep breath over the frying pan. "God, does this bring back memories."
Chakotay had to admit, the smell was enticing. "How long do they take to cook?" "Just a couple of minutes," Tom grinned, flipping the small pancakes. "You might want some applesauce or sour cream with them."
"You‘re not having any toppings?"
"Nope. I like mine straight up. Pure unadulterated grease." "Why am I not surprised?" Chakotay grinned back. He went to the cabinets to get some plates and forks, finding himself suddenly hungry although he‘d had a full dinner. Tom expertly flipped the latkes out of the frying plan and onto the plates where they lay, still sizzling. "Dig in," Tom encouraged, doing so enthusiastically with his own. Chakotay was amazed as the taste exploded through his mouth. This was probably the most unhealthy thing he‘d eaten in years, but . . . it was good. Potatos, onions, grease. What more could you ask for?
"Happy Hannukah, Tom," he said around a mouthful of sizzling latkes.
"Happy Hannukah, Teddy," Tom said back.
"I don‘t celebrate it," Chakotay reminded him.
Tom grinned. "Tonight, you are."
Loved it? Hated it? Want the recipe? MaisieRita@aol.com