Matzoh Brickle - chocolate- and toffee-covered Unleavened Bread - converted into an impromptu birthday cake for our friend JoAnn by the addition of a candle.
On the seventh day, God rested from the work of Creation - at least, so it says in the Scriptures. But on the seventh day of Passover, we Red Sea Pedestrians are still scarfing down our unleavened bread... or at least refraining from enjoying the regular Puffy Stuff.
I actually don’t mind eating matzoh all that much. By itself, it’s a bit bland and boring - but then again, so is Melba toast, the dieter’s mainstay half a century ago. Properly adorned with salted butter or perhaps a thin veil of smoked fish, it’s really an excellent neutral backdrop for whatever sits upon it. It is all too easy for me to go through half a box of matzoh by simply buttering the pieces one by one, shoving them into my face as I read the paper.
Here’s the thing about matzoh. Like the Israelis, it suffers from adverse publicity, mostly unjustified. The most popular slam is that eating matzoh for a full eight days will completely lock down your colon: according to the well-worn joke, when Moses said “Let my people go!” he was not asking Pharaoh for permission to leave; rather, he was begging the Almighty for a bit of bowelly relief for his matzoh munching peeps. But that is a base canard. My own experience says that the Unleavened Breadstuff is no more (or less) constipating than an equivalent amount of normal bread. The problem is, it’s easy to eat way more of it than you intend to. An adequate intake of liquids and veggies will protect against, err, ahhh, difficulties in this sensitive area.
The main legitimate beef one could have with matzoh is its extreme friability: Nothing on God’s green earth generates crumbs more efficiently than eating - or merely handling - matzoh. For eight days, we have to put up with a snowstorm of matzoh particles. They are everywhere, and there is no avoiding them.
Aside from the matzoh-crumb issue, the only tricky part about Passover is that it lasts for eight days. [That’s here in the Diaspora - in Israel, it’s seven days just like in the Scriptures.] Avoiding chametz - leaven - in its myriad forms becomes a bit of a challenge, one that requires a certain amount of discipline. I mean, think about it: no Scotch whisky (or beer, or any grain-based alcohol) for eight full days. If that’s not discipline, what is?
That said, there’s a lot to be said for exercising a bit of personal discipline now and again. The first few days of the holiday, I’m still in Novelty Mode, enjoying the foods unique to Passover. By the time Day Seven rolls around, though, the novelty has worn off; only the self-discipline is left. I back off from bread, recoil from rolls, pass on the pizza. I can do this. I am not a victim of celiac disorder; this is only a temporary denial. Whiskey will wait until I am ready for it again. (That’d be sundown tomorrow.)
The seventh day has its own little joys. We chant the Song at the Sea, that dramatic, celebratory poem in the Book of Exodus, and envision what it must have been like to be present at our ancestors’ deliverance from bondage. And, like Sarah Palin seeing a far-away Russia from her living room window, we get a glimpse of the end of the holiday, a mere day-and-a-half away, when life returns to its normal rhythms... along with our diets.
Meanwhile, I am still up to no good. I’ve just cranked out a batch of chocolate- and toffee-covered matzoh. Anyone care for a chunk?