This year, as I was shopping for Passover, I found myself facing a rather paltry selection of kosher foods. How was I supposed to make Matzo Ball Soup without matzo meal?
I was reminded of a time I found myself in a similar situation a few years ago, when I was in college. In my small college town of Walla Walla, the grocery store within walking distance had, in my recollection, almost nothing to offer in terms of kosher fare. (The real goods could be found a 10 minute drive away, but Passover is not a holiday of driving. I, too, was limited to foot travel, in my matzo-meal-less exile).
What I did instead, was gather some regular matzo from the dining hall, and bring it home to the blender. After a good pulse or two in there, my crackers became lumpy but functional matzo meal. As I wrestled with my soup, my housemates would walk by me in the small kitchen and ask: “Why are you doing this? Are you even Jewish?”
Unfortunately, the answer is no. But Passover is a charming and familiar holiday to me. I love the meaning that is imbued in each item on the Passover plate, and in the matzo itself. And I love that just as the Passover Seder collapses time between the present day and the days of exile, it also brings the memory of past Passovers to the fore. It is meaningful in its repetition and tradition, connecting me with my own past, and the past of so many Jews throughout time.
I also love this soup to no end. What other soup requires you to carve tasty lumps of cracker dough with your spoon?
So even though it was surprising to me that my New York grocery store didn’t carry matzo meal, I was content to make off with just a small package of matzo. Blended up, it’s going to make a fine soup.
P.S. dear Matzo-lovers, I had no idea there was so much science to matzo ball making. Here’s a real interesting read if you want to know how to achieve the balls of your dreams. http://www.seriouseats.com/2015/04/how-to-make-the-best-matzo-balls.html
Post and Photo by Molly Johanson.