By Adam Kraemer
And Moses said to the people, “Remember this day, on which you went free from Egypt, the house of bondage, how the Lord freed you from it with a mighty hand: No leavened bread shall be eaten.” — Exodus 13:3
Okay, before I go any further, no, this is not technically a religious column. The biblical quote above is for context only. Also, slightly for effect. Any column that starts with “And Moses said,” carries some pretty serious weight behind it. No pun intended.
And the context is for why I’ve spent the week not eating leavened bread. I guess first I should explain what “leavened bread” is, because honestly I’d probably have no idea if I didn’t observe Passover. Oh, right. This is a Passover thing. Forgot to mention that.
Anyway, “leavened” means the dough has been given time to rise. Which is why, if you’ve ever seen matzo, it’s a flat sheet, somewhat resembling cardboard. In both look and taste, btw. Though the crumbled matzo can also be used as a flour substitute. Of course the fun part about substituting unleavened bread for flour is that your food doesn’t rise. Ever. My grandmother used to make a Passover cake with three layers that, in total, stood about two inches tall. And that required, like, 18 eggs.
This year for Passover dinner (or Seder, for those of you who find that sort of thing interesting), I made matzo ball soup (see photo). This only required four eggs to get the dough to expand, as well as a can of seltzer. I’m not making that up. And then it’s cooked in chicken broth for a full half hour without removing the lid of the pot. (Some recipes will tell you to cook your matzo balls in water. Those recipes are only useful if you want your matzo balls to taste like water.)
But the point of this column is not what I ate at Passover (though it was good). The point is what I’ve eaten the rest of the week. (Hint: It’s not a lot of matzo.)
In years past, for many Jewish people, including myself, the idea was always to substitute matzo for bread. So you had PB&J on matzo. Or French toast made with matzo (also called matzo brei). Or desserts (chocolate-covered matzo). I even went so far one year as to make matzo pizza (which sounds like it should be an ancient Incan city).
And then a few years ago, starting generally with beginning Weight Watchers, I realized that just because I couldn’t eat bread, that didn’t mean I had to eat matzo. I could eat salad. Or soup, as long as it didn’t have noodles. Or an omelet. Or salad. Or chicken and broccoli. Or sashimi. Basically, anything that isn’t made with dough — though corn and rice are debatable. (And I know I said salad twice. I really like salad.)
The point is, I don’t have to fill my week with extra carbs. Especially carbs that sit in your stomach like rocks. And trust me, if you think the biggest problem is that matzo gets boring to eat after a week, it also destroys your digestion. We joke that’s the reason it’s called the “bread of affliction.” Also, a single sheet of matzo has a SmartPoints® value of 3. So a sandwich has a value of 6 — and that’s before you actually put anything on it. There are plenty of foods (salad, perhaps?) that are a much better bet.
So that’s my Passover plan. So far, so good.
Talk to you soon.
Follow Adam on Connect @adam.k
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