For Julie Benson, husband David, and their three boys, Cooper, Martin, and Harris, Hanukkah is a holiday for family and food in their Louisville home. Julie is the founding president of the Louisville chapter of the Chaîne des Rotisseurs, the oldest gastronomic society in the world, based in Paris. Julie says food has always been significant in her life. "I can remember sitting in booster chairs at Antoine's, Galatoire's, and Brennan's as a little girl growing up in New Orleans." These icons inspired Julie to cook with the freshest ingredients and to pay special attention to complementary flavors. She plans her Hanukkah menu with this in mind.
The symbolism of Hanukkah takes its rightful place on the table too. Julie's fried treats remind diners of the symbolism of the oil, which miraculously burned for eight days when only enough for one day remained in the Hebrew temple in 165 B.C. The menorah, a nine-branched candleholder also reminds Jews of those same miraculous eight days. The ninth candle, in the middle, serves to light the others.
While other Jewish holidays are holier, the festivities around this time of year give the Bensons a chance to relax, eat, celebrate, and spend time with each other.
Julie Benson's Hanukkah Menu:
- Potato Blini With Sour Cream and Caviar
- Hanukkah Doughnuts With Strawberry Preserves
- Caramelized Maple-and-Garlic-Glazed Salmon
- Asparagus Sauté
- Sweet Potato Latkes
"Gather Around the Table" is from the December 2001 issue of Southern Living.