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The bread of affliction

For Jews around the world, this is the week we eat matzo—imagine a large saltine, without salt, and even less flavor. Some will quibble with this description.

I know a matzo aficionado who stockpiles her favorite brands just before Passover, and eats it year round. She’ll explain that the whole wheat version can be flavorful; egg matzo is useful for desserts, since it's softer; but the crisp, ultra-thin brand from Britain is the best.

But, please. What does it tell you that a box purchased in the Spring will taste the same a year later?

I dutifully buy my 5-box case every Passover. During the Seder, we eat it with charoset* and horseradish, and plain. For the first day or two, we’ll enjoy a piece with fresh butter and salt, and maybe for another day or so, we’ll eat matzo brei or a cheese melt for a satisfying lunch. We go through the first three boxes quickly, and I start worrying: will we have enough for the rest of the week?

No fear. By day four, no one asks for matzo brei. At dinner, the box will stand, untouched on the table, as potatoes have become the favored side-dish. For the Sephardim in my family (or those who adopt Sephardic customs for the holiday), rice will take center stage.

By day 8, no one wants matzo, period. A lone box will sit on my shelf, studiously avoided by everyone. What am I supposed to do with it?

I can leave it there, I suppose. It should be good next year, after all.

Matzo brei:

There are several versions of this: sweet or savory; with or without additional ingredients, such as fried onions or mushrooms. Some prefer it omelette-like. This version comes out scrambled, and is fast, easy and tasty. It will serve one person. Double, triple, quadruple, as desired.

1 matzo
1 egg
salt & pepper to taste
1 tsp butter for the pan

Beat egg with salt and pepper in a wide bowl. Run both sides of matzo under cold water so that all of it gets wet. Allow to drip. Crumble it into egg and mix so that the matzo is thoroughly coated by the egg.

Heat pan over medium-low heat. Melt butter. Add egg & matzo mixture. Allow it to cook for 1 minute before you begin stirring. Keep stirring, scraping the bottom, until all the egg is just cooked through. Serve immediately.


* Charoset is a mixture of nuts, fruits, wine and honey that is served as part of the Seder. There are as many recipes for it as there are countries in which Jews have settled.

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