How Padma Lakshmi Is Honoring The Miracle Of Oil For Hanukkah

Padma Lakshmi celebrated the second night of Hanukkah with a traditional meal along with an essential table centerpiece: a menorah. Lakshmi posted an Instagram Story featuring a pic of the food spread, which includes latkes (fried potato pancakes, per CBS News) and sufganiyot (fried, jelly-filled doughnuts), explaining that these dishes are important to the Jewish culture and tradition "as a nod to the miracle of oil." Lakshmi explained further in an accompanying Instagram post, stating that when the Macabees defeated King Antiochus (an oppressor of the Jewish people, per History) over 2,000 years ago, they found that their Temple only contained enough oil to last the evening. However, their menorah remained lit for eight days. Therefore, these foods are fried in oil to commemorate this miraculous occasion. 

Instagram agrees and is loving Lakshmi's post. One commenter, who described having Ashkenazi relatives, wrote, "There are so many beautiful ethnicities and cultures all over the world, and in the midst of there being so much hate, there is also so much good happening as a result of that. Seeing you enjoy stuffed cabbage and describe the taste I know so well brought tears to my eyes... You are teaching everyone."

"The past can hold difficult memories, including years of struggle and exile, but remembering what was overcome, finding joy in community and traditions, that's where you'll find the tastiest bites," Lakshmi states in the video post, which may be a clip from her show "Taste the Nation with Padma Lakshmi."

Why Hanukkah is important to Padma Lakshmi and her family

The new holiday season of "Taste the Nation" takes viewers on a whirlwind tour of America, teaching us the nuances of four holidays, including Hanukkah, through the lens of those who celebrate. In the Hanukkah episode, Padma Lakshmi explores Ashkenazi Jewish culture, religion, tradition, and, of course, food on the Lower East Side of New York City, where The Jerusalem Post reports many Jews arrived from abroad toward the start of the 1900s. She tours prominent locales, learns to make a stuffed cabbage dish called holishkes, and noshes on brisket and kugel with her daughter, Krishna. According to People, Krishna's father's side of the family is of Ashkenazi Jewish descent. 

Lakshmi wants to let Krishna determine how much she wants the public spotlight but also felt it was important to include her in this episode of the show, stating that she would feel "disingenuous" asking others to open up their homes and lives to her, but not doing the same. "It made perfect sense for her to be there at that Hanukkah dinner," Lakshmi said. While it is unclear if Krishna was present at the table in the recent Instagram Story, it seems safe to say that Padma Lakshmi not only honors Jewish culture; she also celebrates it.