Hamentash takes the cake

The annual debate pits two Jewish foods, hamentash and latke, against each other.

Emily Ayshford

Although former University President Mark Yudof was not around to moderate the fifth annual latke-hamentash debate, moderator Ken Keller explained the former president’s absence.

“There are ugly rumors that his recent remove to the University of Texas was related to the fact that he had run out of excuses for not showing up,” Keller said.

The annual debate continued to try to answer the age-old question: Which is better, the potato pancake latke or the filled pastry hamentash?

The debate was held once in the 1960s. Hillel, the University’s Jewish student center, revived the tradition after Yudof became University president.

“We heard he was a moderator for the debate at UT-Austin,” said Rabbi Sharon Stiefel, associate director of Hillel.

A Hillel committee chooses four professors to present arguments for either of the Jewish foods, using their academic areas of expertise to back their cases.

“The outcome won’t in any way settle the question,” Keller said. “In any event, it doesn’t matter in the least.”

Charles Muscoplat, College of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences vice president and dean, began the debate by explaining that the hamentash was superior to the latke because “my mom told me so.”

Muscoplat also compared the brains of the people who prefer either food: A hamentash eater’s brain was normal, while a latke eater’s brain looked like Homer Simpson’s.

“We’ve heard of couch potatoes, but you never heard of a couch hamentash, now did you?” Muscoplat said.

Philosophy professor Naomi Scheman compared the hamentash to telephone sex and robot dogs – they all claim to meet needs but are just substitutes for the real thing.

Amy Kaminsky, a women’s studies professor, called the latke “war-mongering and divisive,” saying it was the first sign of the connection between oil and war in the Middle East.

The event also included an original song by David Palay, a management sophomore, which included the line, “Men: eat up and get fat/You’re already bald, so what’s wrong with that?”

The latke-hamentash debate originated at the University of Chicago in 1946. The tradition has since spread to Jewish centers throughout the United States.

Emily Ayshford welcomes comments at [email protected]