Wednesday, April 8, 2009

25 Random Things About Matzah

1. Matzah (also Matzo, Matzoh, or Matza), is a flatbread. It's unleavened, meaning it's made without yeast or sourdough culture, so that it doesn't rise.

2. For the duration of the Jewish Passover, no leavened bread is eaten, which is why Passover is also called "The Festival of the Unleavened Bread," and why matzah is the primary symbol of the holiday.

3. Matzah is referred to as the “bread of affliction,” in Deuteronomy. It's meant to recall the years of slavery in Egypt, and is most fittingly eaten plain.

4. Gourmet Matzo Brei recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 6 matzos
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. freshly chopped parsley
  • 4-5 eggs
  • salt and black pepper to taste

Preparation:

  1. Pour hot water over matzos. Drain immediately. Squeeze out excess water. Set softened matzos aside.
  2. In a large skillet over low heat, saute the onion and the garlic in the oil until golden.
  3. In a large bowl, beat eggs. Add in parsley, salt and pepper.
  4. Add matzo and sauteed onions and garlic to the egg mixture. Mix well.
  5. Heat oil in a frying pan. Drop egg-matzo batter by approximately 1/4 cup. Cook
  6. matzah brei pancake over medium heat on one side, and then turn over and cook on the other.
NOTE:

If you are in a hurry, skip step number 2, thereby making the matzo brei without garlic and onion.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS:

Serve with strawberry jam.
5. Matzah joke:
A Jew took his Passover lunch to eat outside in the park. He sat down on a bench and began eating. Shortly thereafter a blind man came by and sat down next to him.

Feeling neighborly, the Jew offered a sheet of matzoh to the blind man.

The blind man ran his fingers over the matzoh for a minute, and exclaimed, "Who writes this crap?"
6. Matzah rap.

7. Visit a Matzah factory in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

8. Sweet Earth Chocolates' toffee and 100% organic fair trade dark chocolate Matzoh Bark is $8.95 for 8 oz., a great value considering you're doing a mitzvah just by eating it! As the company explains:
Consuming chocolate made from organically grown cocoa is one giant step toward reducing our dependence on petroleum-based agricultural inputs while supporting small growers who intercrop growing as many 6 crops on one small plot.

Fair Trade certification is a guarantee to processors, handlers, retailers and consumers, that the cocoa beans used in this chocolate were produced in a way that does no social harm.

The U.S. State Department estimates that over 15,000 child-slaves work on plantations in the Ivory Coast. They have been kidnapped or sold by their parents to work from age 8 on cutting cocoa pods from trees and processing them, often at the end of a whip. In other countries of West Africa, children work with deadly chemicals, applying pesticides and fungicides to trees without wearing protective garments and without proper training. Amazingly, some of the cocoa used in popular confections - the chocolate you eat every day is grown and harvested under such conditions.

Fair Trade certification guarantees that you are not an unwitting participant in this very inhumane situation.
9. "20 Things To Do with Matzah."

10. The ‘Matzot Orenstein’ matzah factory in the port city of Ashdod in Israel claims it has produced the largest kosher matzah on earth. The matzah measures 4.2 meters (almost 14 feet) across and is on display in the factory’s visitor center.

11. Ben & Jerry’s matzah-flavored ice cream, “Matzah Crunch” (duh) is available only in Israel. The French vanilla-flavored ice cream contains chips of chocolate-covered matzah. Produced in Ben & Jerry’s Yavne factory it costs about $4.50 a pound.

12. Spock Matzah, from Geek Crafts:


13. "Is Matzoh better than pizza?" (Only in Manhattan.)

14. Manischewitz, founded in 1888, is the world's largest matzah manufacturer.

15. Manischewitz estimates its matzah shelf life is about 2 1/2 years. But stale matzah can be re-crisped in a 250-degree oven for about five minutes.

16. Matzah balls (kneydlach in Yiddish) are a traditional Ashkenazi dumpling made from matzah meal, and usually served with chicken broth as matzah ball soup.

17. The Matzo Ball Heiress, a novel by Laurie Gwen Shapiro, is the story of Heather Greenblotz,
the heiress to the world's largest matzo company [who] plans to televise the family's Passover seder for publicity--despite the fact that her family has never celebrated it! But Heather has found a wonderful cast to play the necessary family roles (mailman = uncle, shopkeeper = grandma). So here's hoping that the surprise visit from her bisexual father, his lover and her estranged mother won't blow her cover!
Buy your copy TODAY! They're flyin' off the shelves!

18. The Matzah Man by Naomi Howland, a kosher version of "The Gingerbread Man," is more my speed.

19. In the 2003 movie Chanukah on Planet Matzah Ball,
the Jewish inhabitants of a faraway planet made entirely of Matzah have lost touch with tradition, but when a wandering menorah crash lands on their remote planet, a nine-year-old boy named Oogy is determined to find out just what the strange object means.... Upon looking through his high-powered telescope, Oogy spies three Jewish children partaking in a Chanukah party on far-away planet Earth. As the festive activities unfold before his very eyes, Oogy learns about everything from potato pancakes to what it means to eat a kosher meal. Now if he can just find out what to do with the menorah before the eighth night of Chanukah he can tell his entire planet about his exciting new discovery.
20. The Chosen People do "Matzo, Matzo Man":

21. Joey "Jaws" Chestnut holds the world record in Matzoh ball eating, popping 78 in 8 minutes at Kenny & Ziggy's World Matzoh Ball Eating Championship in 2008.

22. Vegan fun: stuffing matzah balls.

23. The 1903 Kishinev pogrom, three days of rioting that left 49 Jews dead, over 500 wounded, and over 700 houses looted and destroyed, was sparked by an anti-Semitic newspaper's unfounded accusation that Jews were responsible for the murder of a Christian boy. The paper alleged that the Jews killed him in order to use the blood in preparation of matzah.

24. The ingredients of Matzah (for the record) are: flour and water.

25. Contrary to any frightening front page stories in the Contra Costa Times, there is no Matzah shortage in the Bay Area! repeat: there is no Matzah shortage!

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