Sunday, April 20, 2008

Passover Food Failure

The great passover pasta experiment was a failure. I should have guessed it would be that way, but I'm kind of stubborn. Inspired by this recipe for a matzo lasagna I wanted to make a variation with slightly fresher ingredients but, it wasn't to be.

The first sign of trouble came when I tried to find matzo. Over a period of two days I visited to four grocery stores and one natural foods specialty store before I found any. Utah is, apparently, not a great place to be Jewish. Either that or there's such a small Jewish community that it's not cost effective to carry Jewish soul food.

Finally, at the Albertson's store in Tooele (just a mile from my home), I found some. In fact, I found four variations. Some with egg, some without, something called “Tea Matzo,” and one more that I think may have had sesame in it. Every one of them was marked “Not for Passover.”

The thought occurred to me, “What does it matter? You know that matzo for passover exists. You're not Jewish, so what's the big deal? Just pick one of these up.” But I'm kind of stubborn about these kinds of things. I wanted to make sure that my dish was as kosher as I could get it. At least kosher enough that most of the different Jewish sects could enjoy it. I did find something else interesting, though – matzo meal.

Matzo meal is used to make matzo balls. From what I can tell its' just crushed matzo bread. The matzo meal listed that is good for passover. It's main ingredient, in fact, was passover flour. I started thinking along very dangerous lines. “Hmmmmm . . .,” I thought, “I wonder if I could make pasta noodles with this?”

Spending more money that I probably should have for what amounted to a can of unsalted bread crumbs, I headed home, confident in my ability to make something yummy, and go a step beyond the normal.

I was wrong. It didn't matter what I did. I couldn't get the dough to stay together enough to make noodles out of it. “Hmmmm . . . Maybe I can make gnocci with this stuff!”

I did learn that yes, you can make gnocci with matzo meal. It just isn't very good and has the consistency of slightly thickened wallboard putty. My wife described it best, “I feel like I'm eating something your not supposed to to eat.”

The next day I started looking at matzo ball recipes. I figured, matzo balls are cooked a lot like gnocci is, maybe if I got the recipe closer to an actual matzo ball . . .

Okay. Yes. It is possible to make gnocci shaped matzo balls that will hold up to tomato sauce. They just weren't very good. Certainly they were better than the nonsense I had made the day before but, not good enough that I'd every want to try again.

Until the the next night when I learned about something call “pasta nudi” - naked pasta.

This is interesting stuff. It looks like matzo balls, but it's not. It's made with cheese and just a touch of flour. Hey! This might be the answer! So I tried it today.

Hmmm . . . not so good. I ended up with two pasta nudi balls floating in what amounted to matzo meal and cottage cheese soup. And it wasn't very good soup, either.

So, I'm giving up. I'm sorry. If you want the real deal, go here and visit an actual Jewish chef who knows what she's doing, instead of a non-Jew foodie trying to fake it.

Besides. I'm out of matzo meal.

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