This Week's Forbidden Treat - Matzoh Love

Boy, do I love Matzoh. Not the puffed up sinkers that cover the bottom of the soup pot (mmm . . . those are good too). My real love is for that big, square page of unseasoned unleavened bread. It has a taste all of it's own that was amplified when I was young because I'd only really get enough of it during Passover.

Sheesh, weren't there some other times folks had to pack up quick without waiting for the old yeast to rise? You know, like "Hurry up with that bread so we can get to the placing of that last stone on the pyramid. Uncle Levi's been slaving at that all year."

I loved the stuff so much that when I heard that Christian churches had that communion thingy, I volunteered to accompany grandma to mass and even gave up Sundays to visit friends churches. That sooooooooo did not last. For one thing, they were awfully cheap on the matzoh. Two - I found out that some Christian churches didn't do the wine thing, so they served grape juice instead of Manischewitz. Oh, the humanity! So my foray into Christianity didn't last long. There was also something about that "blood of Christ" thing that just creeped me out.

I would secret away the box of the stuff and eat it at night like popcorn while listening to a far away radio station in Windsor/Detroit. I totally could not conceive of how some folks thought that just eating dry matzoh and water was punishment. Of course my parents thought I was asleep, but I'd be listening to pop tunes and crunching away. Of course, the next day my puzzled mom would blame my dad - but he never snitched. Instead, he ruined my life further by introducing me to the distinctly un-kosher snack recipe of matzoh with . . . bacon!

Yeah dad, coming from a Catholic background, couldn't get with the whole 'no swine' thing. He thought about it later when his younger sister converted to Islam in the sixties, but since he died in '68 we will never know if he could have made that life long commitment without Smithfield sausages. Which by the way, were excellent sliced up on matzoh.

Matzoh with jam. Matzoh with bananas and honey. With chocolate, melted and dripping over the sides. With sweet, salty, softened butter - thick from end to end. What would Moses say? To this day . . . Mmmmm, I can still taste it . . . matzoh slathered with rich, forbidden butter. Sheet after sheet of it. Stop me now, I'm gaining weight just thinking of it.

Well, you don't have to stop me. Something happened when I moved away from Jersey. When I could just drop into a Pathmark at 2 in the morning to get my matzoh fix. I, I, I learned to live without it. Getting matzoh in some places in America is like getting grits in New England for breakfast - it ain't happening. So matzoh joined cheesecake, pastrami sandwiches, White Castles, real bagels, and decent pizza - only to be enjoyed when I visited home.

Two years after moving to the D.C. area I 'discovered' Montgomery County. I wasn't all that impressed with the bagels, but the Giant and Safeway supermarkets had matzoh all of the time. But by then I had weened myself from my starchy addiction. I bought a box and only ate one sheet. I had that box for over two years (hmmm . . . does matzoh really ever get stale?) before chucking it.

I've passed the matzoh mountains piled high at the Beltsville and Gaithersburg, MD Costcos. Nope, not even when I had the chance to buy three pounds of butter with it. I'm cured!

Well not exactly. Last week, while thinking of my mom and feeling nostalgic I went to my local Costco in Brandywine, MD expecting my mountain. I wasn't having Seder - maybe I just wanted to sniff it. I searched the entire food department, then finally asked a clerk who gave me a puzzled look and said, "Matza? What's that? No one asks for that here."

Depressed and truly heartbroken (I do love my Costco), I promptly went to the Safeway and bought three boxes.

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