“By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.” - Shakespeare
“Merely touch it with your thumbs: Matzoh makes a lot of crumbs.” - Elisson
When my Daddy, the late Eli (hizzownself), wished to compliment someone, he would, like as not, state that that person looked “sharp as a matzoh and twice as crumby.”
Nonsense, sure, but as with all good nonsense, there is more than a grain of truth in it... or in this case, a crumb of truth. For there is nothing as crumby as matzoh.
We don’t call it the Bread of Affliction for nothing, yo.
Handmade shmura matzoh.
Not only is it famously constipation-inducing, but matzoh - the unleavened bread consumed by us Red Sea Pedestrians during the eight-day Passover festival that begins at sundown this evening - is incredibly crumby stuff. Simply look at it sideways, and little shards will break off, working their way into the tablecloth, your clothing, and any nearby floor. This time of year, our house is filled with Matzoh Detritus. Crumbs.
You cannot avoid them. They are everywhere. Matzoh-crumbs get onto every horizontal surface. They stick to many vertical ones, too, owing to their light weight and grabby little edges. Try to pick one up: Hydra-like, it multiplies, breaking into smaller, harder-to-pick-up chunks.
Funny thing about matzoh. It’s really not bad, this Unleavened Bread. Every year, I enjoy a Matzoh Honeymoon for the first few days of Pesach. We eat it happily, with charoset (the traditional relish of apples, nuts, and wine that is reminiscent of the mortar with which the ancient Israelites built Pharaoh’s cities), with horseradish, with cheese, or slathered with butter. But after five or six days, the honeymoon is over, and crumbs - those fucking crumbs! - are everywhere.
It’s traditional to clean the house thoroughly before Passover, in order to ensure the complete absence of leaven. But it’s at least as necessary to have another thorough cleaning after the holiday is over, in order to remove the quadrillion or so little matzoh-smithereens that manage to adhere to every surface.
“Bread of affliction,” indeed. Oy.
[Adapted from a post originally published on April 11, 2009.]