A New York Times Editor Rises to Defend the Latke
An editor at The New York Times is leaping to the defense of the latke after publishing a pre-Hanukkah article warning about the potentially fatal health risks of eating fried potatoes.
On Friday (Fry-Day?) the Algemeiner reported on the strange timing of the Times, observing that the article, which did not mention the upcoming holiday or its fried potato pancake traditions, might be interpreted as “a subtle yet nonetheless unmistakable effort to throw shade at a beloved Jewish delicacy.”
After the article was filed, we heard back from The New York Times with a response to our emailed inquiry about whether the timing was intentional. A New York Times editor, Patrick LaForge, assured the Algemeiner, “The timing here is a coincidence.”
(Or, as former deputy mayor of New York City Howard Wolfson put it on Facebook, “sometimes a potato is just a potato.”)
LaForge explained the article’s origins as follows: “We were brainstorming health story ideas, and everyone on our general assignment team agreed we loved fries too much but we just weren’t sure: how bad are they for us, really? Is there a safe amount? Are some types healthier than others?”
The reporter who tackled the story, Christopher Mele, “took up the challenge, but he has other duties so it took the story several weeks to land and we found ourselves faced with Thanksgiving. So we held it for a week that fell between holidays where people tend to feast,” LaForge explained.
“Now, I live in a mixed faith household and love my wife’s latkes, so I think of them as a separate category from fast-food fries. They certainly taste better. If I had to guess, based on our expert’s advice, they are somewhat healthier than deep-fried fries if cooked in a skillet,” LaForge wrote. He added that for the upcoming holiday, “I will be eating latkes, more than one helping, and to hell with the experts. Happy Hanukkah.”
Now there is one judgment on which the Algemeiner’s characteristically critical press critic can wholeheartedly and publicly agree with a New York Times editor. Such accord is unusual. If it doesn’t quite rise to the level of another Hanukkah miracle, even so, it’s something to celebrate.
Ira Stoll is the former managing editor of The Forward and North American editor of The Jerusalem Post. More of his media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.