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Better Than Ordinary Matzoh

April 21, 2016

You probably like matzoh. I say that because you’re probably not Jewish. And even if you are Jewish, you probably don’t observe the passover prohibitions.

I’m just playing the odds here. I know I’ve got a few rabbis who read this, and they’ll be the rare exceptions. Rabbis have a way of always making things more complicated. But I love them. Even the obnoxious ones. Well, maybe not the obnoxious ones. However, most rabbis are great. I love my rabbi. He even did a Food Friday on WAMC in advance of the Jewish Food Festival.

But back to matzoh.

The first bite of matzoh every year is delicious. But not all matzoh is created equal. We discovered Yehuda Matzoh when living in Berkeley and reading the weekly food section of the San Francisco Chronicle. Man, that paper used to have a great food section. Anyway, in one of the paper’s tasting panels, Yehuda blew away the competition. And it’s no wonder. This stuff is crisp, light, and deeply toasty.

So where does matzoh get its bad rap?

Well imagine this. Find something that you enjoy, and try to eat a lot of it for eight days straight. Day one will be awesome. Day two won’t be bad either. But rest assured, by day five or six, you’ll be dreading the stuff.

Now, Dan Barber and The New York Times say there is an even better matzoh.

Mostly, I’m writing this story today out of a sense of obligation. The New York Times story kept on finding its way to me this week through social media channels. So it couldn’t really be ignored.

And it was fascinating stuff. As it turned out, the kosher rules for strict wheat standards needed for matzoh turned out to help wheat farmers be better farmers. Not only that, apparently, this special matzoh which is monitored from field to factory by the rabbi, is especially delicious.

It’s also especially expensive.

Regardless of how good it tastes, I maintain that even if you had the means to subsist off of its deliciousness for the full eight days of Passover, it would still feel like torture in the end. As far as I can tell, that’s just a factor of human physiology. Or maybe it’s psychology. I’m not sure.

But this article did contain an interesting reminder. Don’t forget that traditional wheat production takes a variety of shortcuts which are perfectly legal but entirely unseemly. Dan Barber reminds us that some farmers use powerful, toxic herbicides to kill and dry the wheat in the field, to speed and protect the harvest.

Production standards aside, I’m a real sucker for marketing. I always have been. That’s why I wanted to get into advertising in the first place. I figured if there were manipulators and manipulatees, I wanted to be one of the people pulling the strings. And that was fun for awhile.

So it’s probably not surprising that after reading chef Barber’s story, I wanted to run out to the market and pick up some shmurah matzoh to try on my own.

Then I came to my senses.

If I am going to buy some kind of stupid expensive bread product, it’s going to be the $50 panettone that local pastry chef Greg Kern brought to my attention. Because while the matzoh may have a man of god guiding its production, the panettone seems more like a gift from god to man.

Somebody needs to take away my credit card. Luckily, I spoke to my mom, and she was nonplussed by the idea of a chocolate panettone. It turns out she’s a bit more of a purist. I guess the branch doesn’t fall too far from the tree.

But I suspect Roy will be expanding his product line eventually. I do really want to try a piece of this. Maybe since it reportedly serves 12, I can just get a few people to kick in a few bucks each to buy one. I mean really, who wants two pounds of even the best panettone on the planet to themselves?

Okay, who am I kidding. I’d probably tear through one of those in a couple of days if I weren’t on my damn diet. And after Passover, a beautiful, soft, luxurious panettone would be an amazing way to welcome hametz back into my life.

One Comment leave one →
  1. non-obnoxious rabbi permalink
    April 21, 2016 4:40 pm

    Looking forward to hummus on my matza for the first time. Hag sameiach

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