13)Does the word "matzah" exist in
It does in Italian. It's spelled mazza (but
pronounced "matzah") and it means "cane,
cudgel, mace or sledge."
14)How many Passover-related
items can you design using a piece
of matzah? Here are a few to get
A) a plain piece of matzah
B) A Haggadah
C) A pan of matzabrei on the stove
D) Elijah's cup
(Some other ideas: a seder table, a Jew-
ish home, the Ten Plagues)
TH E D ETROIT JE WI S H
15) What is tea matzah, and who
came up with this idea, anyway?
It may sound like some newfangled cre-
ation, but in fact tea matzah is a tradi-
tional delicacy from Europe, said Robert
Solot, vice president of operations for Man-
The tea matzah is thinner and crisper
than the typical matzah, and was designed
by Jews looking for a small cracker to en-
joy with tea. Mr. Solot recommends top-
ping the tea matzah with "a little jam,
cream cheese or slightly salted butter."
16)What are the rules about mak-
ing matzah kosher for Passover?
Who wouldn't walk a mile for this
According to Halachah (Jewish law),
matzah must be made in less than 24 (al-
though 18 is more widely accepted today)
minutes for it to be kosher for Pesach.
Why? Because it was established years and
years and years ago that flour-and-water
dough begins to ferment in the time one
can walk a Roman mile, about 24 minutes.
Since hot water speeds up the fermenting
process, only water at a certain tempera-
ture can be used. To guarantee that the
water was not too warm, rabbis directed
bakers to use "water which has rested" (left
overnight — in the cold air of Israel).
And as a further precaution, the dough
must be constantly kneaded, which im-
pedes rising. Only flour and water may be
used (salt may add flavor, but it also could
In the past, rabbis disagreed about
whether machines could be used to make
kosher-for-Passover matzah. The issue
centered on whether the milling would
cause wheat to produce moisture that re-
sulted in fermentation.
Most rabbis today hold that machine-
made matzah is acceptable on Passover,
and in fact some actually prefer it because
its quality is more consistent than hand-
made matzah, and thus reduces the
chances of unbaked pockets that could be-
come chametz, or leavened.
17)What is "18-minute matzah"?
It is matzah that is produced from clean
utensils every 18 minutes. The flour and
water are mixed, kneaded, rolled, shaped
and baked within 18 minutes. All the uten-
sils — bowls, mixers, rolling pins, knives,
etc. — are then scraped and washed and
all traces of the previous batch of flour and
dough are disposed of. The process begins
again. This is done to en-
sure that none of the
dough from previous
batches turns to
chametz during the
It is not obligatory, just
a stricture that some
prefer to observe. Natu-
rally, 18-minute matzah
costs more than ordi-
nary Pesach matzah.
18)How is matzah meal made?
It's more complicated than you might
Robert Solot, vice president of opera-
tions for Manischewitz, described the
It starts out, of course, with flour and
water. These are mixed together to pro-
duce a 150-pound batch, which is knead-
ed then laid out to get holey (that is, to
have those little holes punched in). The
strips are cut into large, ribbon-like slices,
then sliced again in the other direction,
making them into squares (but don't wor-
ry, they don't wear polyester or tune in
"easy-listening" radio stations). All this,
plus the cooking, "is a continuous process,
completed in seven minutes," Mr. Solot
Some of those matzot are placed, as is,
in boxes and shipped to stores. Others
have a very different fate. They are taken
to machines insiders call "breakers," whose
job is simply to crush the matzah slices
into large pieces. The next step is the
"grinders," which break those pieces into
different sizes of particles. Finally, the par-
ticles are passed through "separating
screens" which divide the pieces by size.
The biggest ones will become farfel, then
cereal, then matzah meal, and the finest
are turned into cake meal.
19)How many boxes of matzah are
sold in the U.S. each Pesach?
Our best guess is around 16 million,
combining the totals for the two largest
matzah producers, Manischewitz and
Streit's, and throwing in an additional 4
million for all the smaller companies com-
Manischewitz's Robert Solot said his
company actually calculates by flour. Each
year around Pesach, Manischewitz uses
10 million (that's right, 10 million) pounds
of flour. Each box of matzah is about 1
pound, meaning — you guessed it — every
year Manischewitz sells some 10 million
Mel Gross, an owner at Streit's, esti-
mates his company sells about 2 million a
20) Double your holiday pleasure
with two really dumb matzah jokes:
Why did the matzah have to leave
early from the seder?
Because he was feeling crummy.
What do you have after you buy
many boxes of matzah?
21) How many different spellings
are there for "matzah" and its plur-
Not billions, but close to it. Here are just
some we managed to find in books, news-
papers and encyclopedias:
22)So, you think you're a matzah
expert by now? Here's a challenge!
See how many words you can make
using all the letters in the vari-
ous spellings of the word.
m, a, t, z, o, u, h, s
(Here are a few to get you start-
ed: mat, hot, shot, at, to, sham,
23)In the darkest
Even in the most ter-
rible days imaginable,
Jews made it a point to
eat matzah during Pe-
sach. In Scroll of Agony,
Chaim Kaplan recorded life in the
Warsaw Ghetto. In April 1940, he told of
how, miraculously, Jews managed to make
matzah with the little flour they had se-
cured and how, despite the hell around
them, they managed to celebrate:
The synagogues are closed, but in every
courtyard there is a holiday service, and
cantors sing the prayers and hymns in their
sweet voices. As to holiday provisions, with-
out question even the poorest of the Jews
does not lack for matzoth ...In every Jew-
ish home the signs of the holiday are man-
ifest: perhaps not in dress, but everyone has
bought the holiday specialties to the extent
he could afford. A sty in the devil's eye!
24)Managing the matzah
You're having matzah cereal for break-
fast, matzah sandwiches for lunch, matzah
lasagna for dinner. Now it's time to counter
the effects of all that matzah with some
yummy vegetables. Created just for The
Jewish News, here is a recipe from author
and food columnist Ruth Mossok John-
ston of Franklin.
`These crepes are so delicious they need
not be made just for the holiday," Mrs.
Johnston says. "They can be served all
year round, and only have 10 grams of car-
bohydrates, perfect for all those watching
that carb intake. This dish is great as an
appetizer or luncheon entree."
For the filling:
4 Tbs. oil
2 cups chopped onions (Vidalia or any
other sweet onion)
1 red bell pepper (1/2 cup), seeded,
membrane removed and minced
1 cup chopped frozen spinach, thawed and
2 cups (about 14) sliced mushroom caps
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
small pinch of cayenne pepper
For the crepes:
1 cup tepid water
2 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. potato starch
112 tsp. salt
2 jumbo eggs, well-beaten
Non-stick cooking spray, oil or butter
Confetti garnish of red and yellow bell
peppers, seeded, with membranes
removed and finely minced
Directions for filling:
In a heavy pot, heat the oil and add
onion. Cook until browned (not burned).
Add red pepper and saute for 2-3 minutes,
until pepper is tender. Add well-drained
spinach and mix thorough-
ly. Add sliced mushrooms
-aid stir with a rubber spat-
ula, so as not to break the
Add chicken stock and let simmer un-
covered for 10 minutes, stirring frequent-
ly with the rubber spatula.
Add freshly ground nutmeg and
cayenne pepper. Continue to reduce down
for another 10 minutes. Salt to taste and
adjust seasonings; continue to cook for an-
other 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Directions for crepes:
In a glass bowl mix together: water,
potato starch and salt, whisking until the
dry ingredients are dissolved. Add the
beaten eggs and whisk until well blend-
ed. This mixture will look like scrambled
eggs and not batter — just wait, it will
come out like crepes!
Heat an 8-inch heavy skillet (I use the
skillet cover to my Le Creuset 2-quart mul-
ti-function pan.) Lift from heat and either
spray or lightly coat the skillet. Pour a
small amount of batter into the skillet and
tilt the pan, spreading the batter evenly
over the surface, as you would in making
regular crepes. Pour any excess batter
back into the bowl.
When the crepe develops a "skin" and
is brown around the edges, carefully flip
the crepe and brown the other side. Care-
fully remove the crepe from the pan and
place on a piece of parchment paper (hav-
ing a solid surface below).
Re-grease or spray the skillet and re-
peat the process. While the second crepe
is cooking, spoon a generous amount of fill-
ing on the center of your finished crepe.
Fold over one side, then the other. Place
the finished crepe (folded side down) in a
well-greased, oven-proof dish. Continue
this process until your batter is gone (re-
membering to re-grease the skillet for
Place the crepe-filled, oven-proof dish
into a 325-degree oven and bake for 30