Chicago's Carimi -- aka 'Bear Jew' -- feasts on Hanukkah latkes

  • By Marc Sessler
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What does it take to fill up the "Bear Jew"?

This time of year, a small mountain of potato latkes.

Jews worldwide began the eight-day celebration of Hanukkah this week, and for Gabe Carimi, the 6-foot-7, 316-pound Bears offensive lineman, it's a time to honor his faith -- and eat. 

Latkes, or potato pancakes, are traditional Hanukkah fare made with shredded potatoes, onions, eggs, flour (and whatever else the chef wants to toss in). Cooked in a skillet and then deep fried, they're customarily cooked in oil to celebrate, in part, a miraculous supply of oil during the defense of rededicated Second Temple in ancient Jerusalem.

"I like it when (they're) shredded up," Carimi told WLS-TV in Chicago this week. "It's not just like mush ... it needs to be shredded potatoes and then it needs to be very crispy on the outside and nice and warm and gooey on the inside."

On the table, they're smeared in sour cream and apple sauce to one's preference -- a mix that sends Carimi back to his Wisconsin childhood, a "time to just gather at night and light the menorah, my mom always made potato latkes. ... My mom's a great cook, so we always used to have great Jewish food up there."

Carimi (nicknamed "Bear Jew" after the heat-seeking character from Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds") has ample time to chow down after the 2011 first-round pick was placed on injured reserve last month with a partially dislocated right kneecap that will likely require a second knee surgery. sends our best to all those celebrating Hanukkah this holiday season.