Happy Passover
April 24, 2005 2:58 PM   Subscribe

How to make matzah. Not the square Manischewitz stuff, mind you, but the real deal! Sure beats buying it for $15-30 a pound. And don't forget to give some to your gorilla.
posted by greatgefilte (43 comments total)

 
It truly is a holy food.

After eating it for a week when you do finally go to the toilet it will be nothing short of a religous experience.
posted by PenDevil at 3:07 PM on April 24, 2005


I thought the gorilla story was going to be about having a gorilla butler operate the dishwasher for you on the Sabbath.
posted by painquale at 3:20 PM on April 24, 2005


the Torah also forbids us to eat (or even have in our possession) chometz

... and I thought christians were nuts! ;-P
posted by mischief at 4:01 PM on April 24, 2005


I sold all my chametz to my girlfriend for the week. Seems she forgot to take it over to her apartment this morning.
posted by Captaintripps at 4:21 PM on April 24, 2005


constipated gorillas are not a good idea--why make them have to suffer too? Surely there are "zoo goys" ?
posted by amberglow at 4:23 PM on April 24, 2005


Every time I see something like this chometz thing I'm tempted to post a snarky remark.

When that happens I find it helps to remind myself that I really do think I take the body and blood of Christ on Sundays (I'm Catholic).

Yup, nothing like remembering that you believe in transubstantiation to make you a lot more accepting of putatively unusual behavior in other religions.
posted by oddman at 4:28 PM on April 24, 2005


It doesn't seem that strange to me, though I'm biased, as everything in Passover is a symbol. It's not like anyone thinks they're going to hell if there's yeast in the house, it's just to remember what they didn't have then. And I think, though I'm biased, that's way less kooky than eating your god for real.
posted by Captaintripps at 4:31 PM on April 24, 2005


it is less kooky, but still kooky.

It's not right to subject animals to it tho--it's not their religion.
posted by amberglow at 4:42 PM on April 24, 2005


try this: get a 6 pack (or get beer at a bar) and drink while munchinbg on matzah...beats pretzels or peanuts and you will not stop eating the stuff nor will you stop drinking to get rid of the blotter-like effect of the matzah.
posted by Postroad at 5:21 PM on April 24, 2005


Mmmmmmm......bread of our affliction.......

We celebrated our family Seder today (we gerrymander the calendar to fit our schedules). It was mercifully short, and I filled up on charoses.

I always felt guilty because I really enjoy horseradish and therefore don't get a sense of the symbolic suffering I am supposed to derive from it.
posted by sourwookie at 5:22 PM on April 24, 2005


Every time I see something like this chometz thing I'm tempted to post a snarky remark...When that happens I find it helps to remind myself that I really do think I take the body and blood of Christ on Sundays (I'm Catholic).


Okay--No. there are plenty of occult Jewish traditions, but I don't understand how simulating, on a miniature scale, the hardships of your ancestors is so bizzare. Certainly not on par with conjuring someone's remains from booze and bread and then eating it.

To quote Marv from Sin City: I know it's pretty damn weird to eat people.
posted by ori at 5:24 PM on April 24, 2005


Those strict rules and obsession with minutae - it has to be made exactly so and it has to take less than 18 minutes, the slightest speck of leaven ruins it - is what turned me off to Judaism (and all religion in general).
posted by mike3k at 5:34 PM on April 24, 2005


Alas, beer is not kosher for Passover.
posted by dismitree at 5:58 PM on April 24, 2005


Alas, beer is not kosher for Passover.

This beer is different from all other beers.
posted by ori at 6:05 PM on April 24, 2005


Just to be sure, I think it's mainly the Orthodox that dwell on the minutiae -- and boy, do they dwell! Jews of European descent don't eat legumes on Passover, since they have become contaminated with grain, which consequently might've leavened.

Then there's the custom of not eating gebrokts. A minority of Orthodox Jews (my family included) won't eat any products in which matzah has been in contact with water, to prevent the teeny-weeny chance that some unbaked part of the matzah might become leavened. No matzohballs or matzoh brei for them!

That said, you can make some pretty damn tasty stuff with potato starch.
posted by greatgefilte at 6:08 PM on April 24, 2005


Okay--No. there are plenty of occult Jewish traditions, but I don't understand how simulating, on a miniature scale, the hardships of your ancestors is so bizarre. Certainly not on par with conjuring someone's remains from booze and bread and then eating it.
-Ori

Um, that was my point. I'm in a kettle/pot situation so I don't snark.

See Amberglow's "kooky" comment.
posted by oddman at 6:26 PM on April 24, 2005


That was a really good piece about kosher beer... I always wondered about that kind of thing.
posted by ph00dz at 6:57 PM on April 24, 2005


I just returned from a weekend trip to a seder with mrs. jonmc's folks. Plenty of gefilte fish, chopped liver, white horseradish, motzoh ball soup, and, yeah matzoh. And they just used the square Manischewitz stuff. And lots of that (admittedly vile)Manischewitz wine. Any religious ritual that requires me to drink multiple cups of alcoholic beverages is still a-ok with me, though.
posted by jonmc at 7:10 PM on April 24, 2005


they have actual, good Passover wines now--you don't have to have that too-sweet stuff anymore.
posted by amberglow at 7:21 PM on April 24, 2005


ph00dz That was a really good piece about kosher beer... I always wondered about that kind of thing.

I also liked that piece, but I get this unwanted nagging feeling that there's a whole lot of 'letter of the law' over 'spirit of the law.'

/dyed-in-the-wool atheist
posted by PurplePorpoise at 7:33 PM on April 24, 2005



they have actual, good Passover wines now--you don't have to have that too-sweet stuff anymore.


After the third glass (and my sister-in-law has big glasses) you don't notice so much.

I do remember back when I was working in a convenience store on the fringes of the New Haven ghetto. Two Puerto Rican kids came in to buy a Phillie Blunt. On the counter one held a bottle in a paper bag with the cap emblazoned "Manischewitz," showing.

"You guys heading to a seder?"

"Huh?"

"Never mind."

I also liked that piece, but I get this unwanted nagging feeling that there's a whole lot of 'letter of the law' over 'spirit of the law.'

In general, I agree, and would be inclined to disregard it, but with the exception of wine and chinese food, kosher food (esp. cold cuts) are usually of better quality than their traif counterparts.

And yeah, I wore a yarmulke at the seder, a black one. My brother-in-law had a red one. I wanted to wear it so I could pretend I was the pope.
posted by jonmc at 7:46 PM on April 24, 2005


Forget Passover, amberglow, those wines are good for all year round, morning, noon, and night! Here's another article along the same lines that mentions an additional issue with kosher wine -- if it hasn't been pasteurized, it becomes unkosher when a gentile handles it.
posted by greatgefilte at 7:47 PM on April 24, 2005


jonmc I agree, and would be inclined to disregard it

Religious dietary restrictions have always confused me, being Cantonese, and all. Sure, I can understand why food (or sex, or whatever) restriction could have been a good thing to slow/prevent the spread of disease but couldn't people have figured out how to make food less unsafe (ie, cooking pigs thoroughly to prevent worms from pigs; testing children young for seafood allergies; &c)?

Does anyone have a different/better take on the origins of religiously imposed dietary restrictions? Or is it because God/Yaweh/Allah just said so?
posted by PurplePorpoise at 8:12 PM on April 24, 2005


jonmc with the exception of...kosher food... are usually of better quality than their traif counterparts.

I find myself agreeing on a gut-feeling basis, but I also remember that it costs (in Vancouver) a little more (for the raw ingredients).

my dad (Vancouver, BC) was putting a kosher/hallal frozen chicken into his basket at the supermarket - some woman asked him, "oh, that *special* chicken, does it taste better?

posted by PurplePorpoise at 8:17 PM on April 24, 2005


Breaking bread is an important facet of our existence. I have a book on the history of food which explains that the essence of kosher is not to prevent disease, but to distinguish oneself, and family from others.

It's the same with the circumcision, at least when and where it was rarer. You could quite easily tell who was a Jew and who was not.
posted by Captaintripps at 8:19 PM on April 24, 2005


My family is Ashkenazi and therefore we technically have the ban on kitniyot (corn, legumes, etc.) as well as chametz. That can be even tougher since so much is made with corn syrup and other things considered kitniyot. I read this (pdf) a few years ago, though, and figured if that's good enough for Conservative Jews in Israel, it's good enough for me. : )
posted by SisterHavana at 8:24 PM on April 24, 2005


From the Free Encylcopaedia, which was the first internet source I found echoing my food history book.

Ritual purity and holiness

According to the Biblical book of Leviticus, the purpose of the laws is related to ritual purity and holiness. Indeed, the Hebrew word for "holiness" is etymologically related to the Hebrew word for "distinction" or "separation." This idea is generally accepted by most Jews today, and by many modern biblical scholars. Cultural anthropologist Mary Douglas has written an important work on just how the Israelites may have used the idea of distinction as a way to create holiness. Her seminal work, Purity and Danger (1966), is still studied today. One theory widely accepted today is that the laws serve as a distinction between the Israelites and the non-Israelite nations of the world. Gordon Wenham writes:

"The laws reminded Israel what sort of behaviour was expected of her, that she had been chosen to be holy in an unclean world."
Similarly, the practice of Kashrut serves as a daily exercise in self-discipline and self-control, strengthening the practitioner's ability to choose other difficult paths. The ability to rationally curb one's most basic appetites can be seen as the prerequisite to living in a civilized society. Also, the aspects of Kosher slaughter which emphasize and incorporate the need to avoid unnecessary suffering of the animal remind the believer that having the power of life and death or to cause suffering, even to a farm animal born and bred to be eaten, is a serious responsibility rather than a pleasure to be sought after; and that to actually indulge in pleasure in the power to cause suffering, even in so common a practice as hunting, is to damage our own moral sensibilities. Modern psychology confirms that those who have no empathy for the suffering or death of animals are greatly at risk for also having no regard for suffering and death of their fellow humans.

The prohibition against eating the fruits of a tree for the first three years also represents a capacity for self-discipline and self-denial, as well as a lengthy period of appreciation for the bounty of God, prior to losing oneself in its enjoyment. Similarly, the requirement to tithe one's harvest, aside from the social justice aspect, serves as a reminder that this material wealth is not purely the result of one's own efforts, but represents a gift from God; and as such, to share the gift with one's fellows does not represent a real loss to oneself.

posted by Captaintripps at 8:29 PM on April 24, 2005


My brother-in-law had a red one. I wanted to wear it so I could pretend I was the pope.
Red is for cardinals. The pope's yarmulke is white.
I also liked that piece, but I get this unwanted nagging feeling that there's a whole lot of 'letter of the law' over 'spirit of the law.'
The letter is the spirit.
posted by kickingtheground at 8:31 PM on April 24, 2005


Religious dietary restrictions have always confused me,

It was actually a conspiracy to hoard all the good salami. My guess is that a lot of it is largely symbolic, since both pigs and shellfish are scavengers and were seen as unclean (the practical concern of avoiding disease was important too, and this was all happening along time before science had advanced to the point of being able to figure out how to prevent those diseases in practical terms). Much like abstaining from meat during lenten fridays is meant to symbolize sacrifice along the lines of Jesus' fasting in the desert. Although truth be told, Lent was a treat for me and my mom; my dad had a true Irishman's palate, he liked well done meat and hated fish. But during Lent my mom had an excuse to cook seafood. Yum.

Red is for cardinals. The pope's yarmulke is white.


There goes my dream of being the first Irish pope.
posted by jonmc at 8:34 PM on April 24, 2005


Captaintripps - ok, that's cool, diet and circumcision as knowing who was part of your tribe. I've also heard of other institutional reasons for circumcisions (maybe not a Jewish reason, but I knew someone who got his foreskin removed when he was 12 - a horrible experience, espcially since his anaestheologist was incompetent and didn't give him enough).

But to distinguish one family from another - I wonder why the Indian solution, that of each family having their own complex amd individual mix of spices for their curries, failed to compete with wholesale restrictions?

SisterHavana that's an interesting link - I've recognized that Rabbi's tend to be actual scholars and actually think about things in both the context of when the texts where written *and* in the current situation + try to figure out what's the best for the people they're responsible for as well as how they interact with the rest of whoever they're surrounded by - and this is another reinforcement of that idea.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 8:36 PM on April 24, 2005


Indeed, the Hebrew word for "holiness" is etymologically related to the Hebrew word for "distinction" or "separation."

So the early Jews were like Goths of today. Ok. sorry

jonmc ...scavengers... - totally get you. I know fishermen who abhor lobsters and who's worst nightmares are dying at sea. However, I have to contend that scatophagic (rock) cod are the best tasting cod - regardless of their scatophagery.

... and yes, I respect symbolic sacrifice, and do it myself in certain other times/events. I think it's also an interesting contrast - Cantonese people throw these really tasty and calorie chucking ('juong') rice/fatty-pork/-preserved-duck'segg-yold/&c wrapped in lotus leaves into rivers to pursuade the scatophagic fish from eating dead fishermen.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 8:45 PM on April 24, 2005


I just threw the circumcision thing in there as the example easiest at hand.

It's "common knowledge" that kosher is to stop disease spread, but ever since I read about the idea of putting everything in its proper place and discussed and read about it, I've found it utterly more convincing than the disease hypothesis.

I'll have to dig that book up and link to it on Amazon.

I didn't know about distinguishing one family from another in India. That is quite interesting. Do you have more information on that?
posted by Captaintripps at 8:50 PM on April 24, 2005


My favorite kosher beer is the wonderfully named He'Brew. L'chaim!
posted by painquale at 12:03 AM on April 25, 2005


How to make matzoh, step one:

'About thirty or so people form an association, and rent out the bakery for four hours. There's a job for everyone, and each association is planned exactly to fill the needed jobs. In the better associations, each participant gets about four to five pounds of matzoh per person.

I think I'll stick to the ones in the box.

Sounds like most of south asia could be observing a passover diet.
posted by asok at 3:21 AM on April 25, 2005


I have American Orthodox friends, born-again frummies, as it were, and for them Pesach is always the time of year when "religion meets eating disorder." I'm half Bosnian Sephardic, but was raised Ortho Ashkenaz. Sephardic kosher allows rice and "legumes" (which include fennel, deemed not kosher for passover by Ashkenazim.) Rather than worry about my attraction to rice and legumes at passover I just stick to bread.

Check out these passover toys like "Passover Bag of Plague" (scroll down a bit.)
posted by zaelic at 5:18 AM on April 25, 2005


Oops, these bags of plague...
posted by zaelic at 5:19 AM on April 25, 2005


Yeah... we're also kickin' it Sephardic style out here. In truth, it's not that much of a departure from our normal, mostly-vegetarian lifestyle to begin with... and it's kinda fun.

This year, we're trying to take it seriously.
posted by ph00dz at 5:26 AM on April 25, 2005


That fanatical attention to detail is what's so cool about Judaism!

Zaelic, I was in Greece for a few months two years ago with an Orthodox Ashkenaz. Not a lot of Jews, or stores selling kosher food, in Greece. He lost a lot of weight, especially during Passover.
posted by kenko at 7:37 AM on April 25, 2005


You want attention to detail? Well it all boils down to kitniyot: anything that looks like a grain of wheat or may possibly have been stored in a bag that once contained wheat.

An Ashkenazi may eat at the home of an observant Sephardi as long as he does not partake of the kitniyot themselves. I would like to emphasize that he is allowed to eat foods that have been cooked in the same pot as kitniyot have been cooked, as long as he does not eat the kitniyot themselves.

Now where did I hide those Twinkies...
posted by zaelic at 8:52 AM on April 25, 2005


SHOPPING FOR...Gefilte Fish

I like gefilte fish a lot, but what I'm totally crazy for is pierogi
posted by matteo at 10:55 AM on April 25, 2005


How do you know when to add the blood of christian babies if the website's PR people omit it?
posted by Mayor Curley at 12:39 PM on April 25, 2005


I'm sure that these guys can help you out, Mayor
posted by matteo at 1:43 PM on April 25, 2005


That fanatical attention to detail is what's so cool about Judaism!

Please, please, tell me you're kidding.

The exact dimensions of the matzah, wine, and bitter herbs that one must eat on Passover

This is cool?
posted by greatgefilte at 3:47 PM on April 25, 2005


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