I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Jihad on Matzah

My little brother recently emailed me (little being a proverbial thing, he's 6'5") to say that, this Passover, he's declared a jihad on matzah. He can't stand the stuff and more importantly the stuff can't stand him, so he's temporarily gone all Atkins on me. Most of my family members (myself included) claim that matzah gives them a stomach ache. It's no wonder, really! I don't think Him Who Is Up There really *meant* for us to eschew all things tasty, did he? Surely not. It takes a special kind of evil to make Jews - The Chosen Eaters - have crappy food for eight days. Every year we subject ourselves to this "helliday" of bad food....and I'm convinced it's because it gives us good complaint fodder. If there is two things Jews are good at, it's incessant eating and incessant complaining. Passover, in all it's glory, allows us to do BOTH.

Matzah is kinda like Chinese food...you eat it and eat it and eat it and eat it and you feel like you've eaten enough to last several lifetimes. You then get a stomach ache, go take a big shit, and then bah-dah-bing, you're starving again. So you go to the cupcboard to get something to eat and you're faced with... matzah. So you sigh and get some out of the cupboard, slap on a few calories (because what is matzah without butter and cream cheese and Nutella?! No, not all at once...okay maybe the cream cheese and Nutella together) and eat several slices. You feel so full, you're going to BURST. You loosen the button on your jeans, feel a stomach ache coming on, head to the bathroom and...well, you get the idea.

So matzah isn't so great ... but here is the part of Passover I totally don't get. During this helliday, people who are normally CRAPPY cooks, who HATE cooking, and who shouldn't be allowed within 10 feet of a stove - suddenly think they are the Galloping-Frickin'-Gourmet. People who are GREAT cooks, who LOVE cooking, and who should have one foot tied to the nearest Sub-Zero and ten-burner stove...lose all their cooking ability. Passover food is shitty NOT because of matzah, but because of all the other random CRAP people cook during those eight days.

Seriously. I don't get it. There is NO commandment which says, "All meat during Passover must be cooked to shoe leather stage and be entirely devoid of moisture." There is NO commandment which says "Though shall not serve any vegetable unless it is mixed with 42 eggs and squished into a Pyrex and overbaked." It goes without saying that there is definitely no commandment which says "All Passover baking must be either bland, tasteless, or have a texture like wet concrete, and your throat must close up with the hardened sludge as you eat it."

NEWS FLASH, PEOPLE: There really is no need for Passover food to suck as much as it does.

Here are 10 essential Passover cooking tips for you:

1) Matzah balls should NEVER be wholemeal. You're already eating 40 eggs and some chicken fat and chocolate covered matzah. A bisselle white matzah won't kill you. I promise.

2) The cows did not get the memo about only producing dry, tasteless meat during Passover. It's YOU who suddenly forgot how to cook it (or season it. Salt is KLP. Really, it is!).

3) If you wouldn't cook soggy vegetable bake/tasteless veggie slice/undercooked kugel the rest of the year, please do not start now.

4) You are supposed request some ice cream with your cake. You're not supposed to request a Heimlich from the guy sitting next to you.

5) If you find yourself thinking "There's nothing to eat in this house," chances are you had nothing the rest of the year, too. Stop being so freakin' cheap and buy some real groceries. You know, like FRUIT.

6) Matzah balls...well, yes. Some traditions should be left alone (but yes, some soda water added to the mixture does make them less cannon-ball like.)

7) Chicken soup. It should have flavour. It's not just water, people. Let me again introduce you to the concept of SALT and VEGETABLES and oh yeah, a NOT ANOREXIC chicken. You want a decent chicken soup? Buy a chicken worth more than $4.

8) There are really only a couple of dishes in which you can successfully substitute matzah for bread. Sandwiches is not one of them, nor is pizza dough. However if you MUST do so, please remember that a) sandwiches usually have more than just salami and mayonnaise, and b) pizza is not just ketchup and crappy cheese.

9) No cookies should ever, and I mean EVER come from a can. Riddle me this - if you saw cookies in a can during, say, August ... would you buy them? No you would not. You would STEP AWAY from the canned cookies. Do us all a favour and make some of these instead. Too hard? 1 egg white to 60g sugar, pinch of vanilla, whisk to stiff peak, plop on an oven tray and bake at 140C for about 20 minutes.

10) Score yourself an invite to my house for Passover next year. I guarantee a week worth of meals which actually taste good AND comply with the rules of this non-holiday. If you don't leave the meal converted, I'll eat my hat (perfectly formed out of matza meal and water of course.)

Follow these ten simple rules, and I promise you won't be complaining as much. Or maybe you will, because, you know, we just kinda DO - isn't it all part of the fun of Passover? (Yes, you just read the words 'fun' and 'Passover' in the same sentence!)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh yes indeed, there is no reason that the answer to 'why is this night different from all other nights?' needs to be 'because the food is lousy'!

I just don't get it - I cook pretty much the same as during the year, just without rice or flour. So that means i don't make bread or cake - but hey, i made some not bad pesach rolls. Last i knew, my ratatouille was just fine for the seder night along with steamed brocolli. And so on and so on.