How To Make Your Own Matzoh

Moses had the burning bush which talked to him and told him to free the Jews from slavery and to lead them out of Egypt; I had a burning piece of matzoh. My burning piece of matzoh didn’t talk to me or tell me to do anything, but it did fill my apartment with so much smoke I had to open all of the windows during a rainstorm. If I were superstitious, I might wonder if this burning matzoh was punishment for my non-seder at Five Guys Burgers the night before where, instead of dipping bitter herbs into salted water, I dipped French fries into ketchup. Regardless, this was my first attempt at making matzoh and it all happened because of a mysterious package that arrived earlier in the day.

Blue Ribbon’s Spiced Matzoh

As a Jew who grew up pretty Jewy (a Bar Mitzvah, Passover seders, an original last name of Rothenberg (changed by my grandparents)), I never got very excited about matzoh. Sure, come April, the inevitable boxes would show up at the store and my mom would by some and we’d spread it with butter (a memory I hadn’t remembered until I wrote this sentence, but now that I remember it, it is a nice taste memory). For those who’ve never experienced matzoh, imagine if cardboard and bread had a baby–that’s matzoh. It’s stiff, it’s crackery, it’s often pretty flavorless. Who gets excited about matzoh?

Chocolate Covered Matzos

Passover is over, but I’d like to belatedly submit my review of the Dark Chocolate Egg Matzos I bought at Citarella a few weeks ago. Here’s my review: I didn’t really like it. Sometimes the combination of dry, crackly, salty bread-like substance (pretzels, for example) with creamy, bitter, unctuous chocolate is a winner, but not so with matzoh. Whereas pretzels have that salty edge, matzoh is pretty bland and chocolate can’t redeem it. It’s like on American Idol when Randy says, “If you can sing, you can sing anything.” Matzoh can’t really sing–it’s just a nice vehicle for other foods like that apple stuff I really like. Haroset. Give me matzoh and haroset any day, but keep the chocolate away.

A Matzoh Moment

Certain experiences belong in that well-worn jar on the mantle: “Only In New York.” Take the experience I had the other night before joining Craig for our second anniversary dinner at wd-50 (post to follow). I was in the Lower East Side, walking on Clinton Street (or was it Rivington?) and I noticed a humming noise and a light from a window on my left. I leaned in and saw what you see in the picture above: Asian men in hats making matzoh. Now I’ve been eating matzoh my whole life–mostly on Passover–and I’d always assumed matzoh was made in mysterious Jewish factories with men dressed like Moses singing songs from “Fiddler On The Roof” and shoving stacks and stacks of the dry, unleavened cracker-like rectangles into boxes. But here, right before my eyes, matzoh was being made. I snapped that picture and a few seconds later a man came outside and said: “Would you like to try some?”

“Sure,” I said and he went inside and came back out with a giant fistful of matzoh. Seeing as I was about to eat an enormous dinner, I had to politely refuse all that matzoh and, instead, I took one still-hot-from-the oven piece and bit in.

“Mmmm,” I said.

“Come back for Passover,” said the man. “We’re called _____” and here my brain totally forgets the name. But I bet someone will guess it in the comments because, seriously, how many places are making matzoh late at night near wd-50?

But the matzoh, as far as matzoh goes, was very good matzoh. I ate half of the rectangle and then hid the other half for someone to find–either an over-eager Jewish child or Shlomo the Rat. As I made my way to dinner, I paused and reflected on my experience. “That,” I concluded, after reflecting, “was a serious matzoh moment.”

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