At the ripe, old age of 3,500, you might wonder what could possibly be new about matzo. You’d be surprised.
Staying current is a bit of a mixed bag.
Matzoh has a big head start since it naturally boasts so many of today’s culinary buzzwords: it’s vegan and sodium-free with no saturated fat, trans fat, or cholesterol. It’s got the artisan thing going on, with much of it made by hand in wood- and coal-fired clay ovens. And it’s the ultimate farm-to-table dish—the good stuff, the shmura matzoh, is watched every minute from the harvest through the baking to ensure that the grains never come into contact with any moisture that could lead to accidental leavening.
But truth be told, matzoh is not the most versatile of foods.
There’s not much room for tinkering with a centuries-old recipe that’s dictated by Talmudic law. Judaism takes its bread rules very seriously, and the specificity and complexity of kosher matzoh-making puts even a Thomas Keller recipe to shame. Still, a few hardy Jewish souls (yes, you have to be Jewish) persevere so that new matzoh treats can make their way to the Passover table.
Remember when a slab of Egg ‘n Onion was exotic? This year you can buy your Manichewitz in varieties like Mediterranean (flavored with olive oil and rosemary) and Organic Spelt.
Note the labeling: matzo-syle squares. They’re not fooling anyone. It seems that if it’s gluten-free it’s only kinda-sorta matzoh. It’s kosher; even kosher for Passover; just not quite kosher enough for the seder. Sorry, celiac sufferers.
Vermont’s Naga Bakehouse is doing brisk online business with Vermatzah, its handmade, small-batch matzoh. Naga labels it as ‘eco-kosher’ for its embodiment of what it calls ‘ the deep well-springs of Jewish wisdom.’ Since it’s made without rabbinical supervision, Passover purists just call it traif .
The usual oats were swapped out for Streit’s matzoh to create Matzolah, the kosher-for-Passover granola. Named as the best new Passover product at Kosherfest 2013, Matzolah’s creator likes to call it “the Trail Mix of the Exodus.”
We’ve heard the rumors out of Israel about Ben & Jerry’s Jewish holiday-themed ice creams. There was even a jokey thread circulating a while back listing flavors like Moishemallow, Wailing Walnut, and Bernard Malamint. Now we have our own with Chozen’s Coconut Macaroon and Matzoh Crunch.
Chocolate-covered matzohs are nothing new, but Coco Délice hits all the right contemporary notes with their version. It’s coated in high-end, high cocoa-count Belgian dark chocolate studded with cocoa nibs and the requisite sea salt.
You won’t see Ambacht Brewery’s Matzobraü until this summer, but beer’s not kosher for Passover anyway (it’s undone by the fermented grains). At holiday’s end, the Oregon brewer will collect donations of leftover matzoh to use in the mash that forms the base of Matzobraü, a golden ale with the unmistakable toasty notes of the bread of affliction.
This year’s seders begin at sundown on Monday, March 25th.
Happy Passover to all (with a special Chag Sameach shout-out to Barack Obama who will be keeping kosher for Passover 2013).