Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Got Matzoh Need Prunes

This is matzoh. It will constipate you if you eat enough of it.

Matzoh (this is just one of many acceptable spellings of the word) is a flat wheat cracker that observant Jews eat during Passover. During the eight days of Passover, all leavened or fermented grain products, which includes any type of bread made with yeast or sourdough starter, are forbidden. The rules vary a bit depending on the traditions of the family, but basically it boils down to this: all the observant Jews I know, including members of my own family, do not eat any grain products except matzoh for the entire eight days of Passover.

Everyone gets constipated after a few days of this regimen. The stuff turns to cement in your guts. Hence my title, which is stolen from the site . You can get a novelty T-shirt with that slogan, or chose among many others.

I stole these images straight from the jewtee site.

Cute, isn't he? How about this one:

It's a horseradish root. Yeah. Um. Moving on...

A sheet of matzoh is around 6 inches by 6 inches. It tastes like a completely plain cracker. However, there are many delicious recipes in which matzoh is only one ingredient among many. One of my personal favourites is dumplings made with ground up matzoh meal, also known as matzoh balls. My mom puts ground almonds in hers. These are traditionally served in chicken soup.

During Passover, not only is it forbidden to eat leavened bread products, but it is not permitted to have them in one's home. The forbidden foods are termed "chametz". The "ch" is pronounced in that Germanic, clearing-phlegm-from-the-back-of-one's-throat type of way. All chametz is ritually removed from the home prior to Passover. Then the house, especially the kitchen, is scrubbed from top to bottom to remove any traces of chametz that might be lurking around.

Because all the ordinary kitchenware in the home has been in contact with chametz, it's not good enough for Passover, if you're truly observant. It's not enough that you maintain two sets of dishes, glasses, and cutlery to keep Kosher the rest of the year (i.e. observe the Jewish dietary laws forbidding the mixing of meat and dairy). You have to also have two other sets of dishes and cutlery just for Passover.

You're supposed to cover the bottom of your sink with a barrier, to prevent your Passover dishes from coming into contact with any chametz which might be clinging to the sides of the drain. The item in question is called a "blech", again with the percussive "ch". Wouldn't you feel more secure with a blech in your sink?

If you think I might be making any of this up, just check out this comprehensive listing of all the Passover rules pertaining to chametz. Seriously. Humour me. Click the link. You don't need to read it all. Just scroll down and marvel at how long it is and how incredibly complicated. Do you suppose Madonna does all this stuff, now that she's converted?


Maxie said...

I am going to BAN everyone from showing pictures of food b/c everything I look at makes me SO HUNGRY.

But I love Matza (sp?) balls. Yum.

Warped Mind of Ron said...

I made up my own religion so i don't have to follow all the rules that were created way back when. So far I'm the only one in this new church, but who knows maybe someday I could be a cult leader if I'm lucky...

jameil1922 said...

OH MY GOODNESS!!! THAT LIST IS INSANE!!! i've had matzoh crackers before... i don't remember why. maybe one of my Jewish friends was celebrating (is it a celebration? observance?) Passover. i'm not the biggest fan of matzoh ball soup.

Nilsa S. said...

You have to watch this video ( with sound. It's hilarious and will forever change your impression of Matzo!

Karen said...

You are teaching me so much about passover. I have only had matzoh once and it was chocolate covered. Yumm.

Anonymous said...

I used to work beside a pizza place in a very Jewish neighbourhood. One night, just some random weeknight, I noticed a huge lineup of people at the pizza place. I had never seen the pizza place so busy before.
As people waited for pizza (apparently the wait was more than 45 minutes), the people would come into my store (video rental store) and wait.
Eventually, the horde of people peaked my curiosity and I asked somebody what all the hubbub was. I was told about the not eating of breads during Passover and how once its over, many Jews binge on bread, hence pizza.
I've had the pizza at this place, nothing to write home about. Nothing to warrant waiting 45 minutes, that's fer sure.

As for Madonna, she's of Italian descent. If she goes eight days without eating bread, she will die. Not joking here. Italians have to eat bread or pasta or pizza or something. If we don't, we will die. And not because an old Italian grandmother will track us down and beat us to death with an old shoe. The Italian body requires bread intake. We aren't actually human, we're a slightly different species. One that requires at least a bi-daily intake of bread.

R.E.H. said...

I just learned a whole lot about Jewish traditions that I did not know about.

But, meat and dairy - not to be mixed... does that mean you can't drink milk with the food if there is meat involved? I need milk with food, so converting would be out of the question for me should that be the case.

It all sounds like too much work for me anyway ;)

Anonymous said...

Why did I think that Passover is Hot T-shirt had a penis on it. LOL! I kept saying what does that little penis have to do with passover. Then I read on. Ohhhhhhh a horseradish root. HAHAHAHA!

Aurora said...

I thought the horseradish root was ... well, coming as it did (!) after your comment about constipation



Also, Matzoh crackers look like cream crackers. Yum.

Sparkling Red said...

Maxie: I warn you, my next post will include mentions of ice cream. But in deference to your request, there will be no photos.

Ron: I can totally see you as a cult leader. "The Church of Ron". That has a nice ring to it!

Jameil: Then I'm willing to bet you're also not a fan of gefilte fish? (That's sweet fish cakes. No, I'm not kidding.)

Nilsa: I'm saving this for later when I get home... :-)

Karen: That's the best kind! My grandmother gives me chocolate covered matzohs every year.

Whatigotsofar: I can easily see everyone lining up for mediocre pizza the day after Passover ends. By that time anything other than matzoh tastes like paradise itself.
I didn't know that about Italians. But I'd be very comfortable living Italian-style. I love pasta. My special favourite is gnocchi. Does that qualify as pasta? It's a delicate distinction.

R.E.H.: You got it - no milk can be involved in any meals that contain meat. That means no cheeseburgers, no Reuben sandwiches, no pizza with cheese and pepperoni, etc. You can't even put milk in your tea right after a meat meal. Yes, it is a lot of work. Running a fully orthodox Jewish kitchen is practically a full-time job. Which is why I will never do it!

1218blog: Yeah, my eyeballs just about popped out of their sockets when I saw the "Jew tee" with the big, funky boner on it. The Jewish culture is not exactly known for embracing public raunchiness. I'm still not sure if the implication was deliberate or accidental.

Sparkling Red said...

Aurora: You thought it was a poop? LOL :-) That T-shirt is getting funnier with each comment. I think I might have to buy one for myself. See what my family says when I wear it to next year's Ceder.

jameil1922 said...

i've seen it in the store and on wikipedia and wrote a post on my food blog about how wrong it was that those were in the store looking all scary but i couldn't find chipotles!

Anonymous said...

Yes, gnocchi qualifies.

Sparkling Red said...

Jameil: I hear where you're coming from. I personally like gefilte fish, but that's because I grew up with it. The kind I like is the "regular" type. Even I can't stomach the really sweet varieties. :-p

Whatigotsofar: That makes me unaccountably happy.

Anonymous said...


"My bacon milkshake brings all the boys to the yard.

Damn right It's better than yours.

That's right it's better than yours.

I could teach you but I'd have to charge."

Nicole said...

All these rules make my head spin.
I mean, whoever wants to follow them, be my guest, but seriously, who came up with all this?
This can only have been a man that hated the guts out of his wife.....
*goes into hiding now*

Snooze said...

Madonna has staff. It's no effort for her to follow Passover rules should she choose!

Sparkling Red said...

Unsigned: Bacon milkshake? Yuk!

Nicole: I've been told that to some, obedience of these rules is the manifestation of their love of God. Although I've never met such a person. It's a very nice theory.

Snooze: Very true!

Stewie said...

I have to laugh that the title of the rules page is "Passover Cleaning Made Easy."


Sparkling Red said...

Stewie: Yes, that is a lovely example of unintentional irony. Could it possibly be more complicated?

Nilsa: I love that matzoh song! Thanks for the link! I've forwarded it to all my relatives.

Jenski said...

If anything, Madonna would have someone else do all that for her.

YUM, matzoh soup! I love matzoh. Then again, I am not required to eat it for many days in a row; and I can eat it with beer.

Anonymous said...

is that soup good as it looks? oR OVER-RATED?

(sorry caps)

The matzoh (sp) soup?


Anonymous said...

OOOO.. and HOW NICE to be able to leave a comment w/o that word verification thing!!



Sparkling Red said...

Jenski: I don't see why we couldn't substitute beer for wine in the Passover ceremony. That would make for a lively evening! But I don't think my family would agree... ;-)

Syb/Mex: I don't think matzoh ball soup is overrated, but then again I have the advantage of coming from a family full of fantastic cooks. I couldn't vouch for the quality at other tables. :-)