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Modern Matzah with Old Fashioned Attitude: “Would it kill you to try something new?”

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©Photo by The Matzo Project

A year ago I received an email from Kevin Rodriguez, asking me if I could teach him how to make matzah. He had read about my “Lotsa Matzah” class at the JCC, and had a particular passion for anything matzah. The other day (just one Passover later) I received an email update from Kevin with the exciting news that he and his old summer camp friend, Ashley Albert, had since embarked upon a ragtag “Matzoventure” (as he called it) and were producing their first limited batch of matzah for this upcoming Passover. (I’m hoping to taste some samples very soon…)

Under the title of, “The Matzo Project,” these “guilt-free” matzahs will become available (just Salted flavor for now) starting this Friday, April 15th in five specialty stores in New York City: Greene Grape Shelsky’s, Stinky Bklyn (Chelsea), Peck’s, and Farmigo, and when they’re gone, well, they’re gone. (Kevin told me that not even their parents are getting a box this Passover!)

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©Photo by The Matzo Project: Kevin Rodriquez and Ashley Albert

There are three flavors of matzah at the moment:
Salted, Cinnamon Sugared, and Everything (plus Two Other Things), and each box promises to bring “surprisingly delicious matzo” (without the guilt, for once, suffering optional).

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©Photo by The Matzo Project

You can also pick up a jar of their Chocolate Matzo Butter Crunch, available in 3 flavors:
Milk Chocolate Pecan, Dark Chocolate Almond, and Pecan Cinnamon Bun!

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©Photo by The Matzo Project: Matzo Butter Crunch

Oy, what are you waiting for —
would it kill you to try something — nu?

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Free Syrian Pistachio Passover Macaroon Demo at the Broadway Panhandler this Saturday, March 19th!

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Come on down this Saturday afternoon for a free demo and tasting of my Syrian Pistachio & Orange Blossom Water Passover Macaroons at the Broadway Panhandler before this legendary store closes its doors for good. (My girls Micah and Sacha will be assisting!)

The Broadway Panhandler
65 East 8th Street
Saturday, March 19th
2:30-4PM

 

The End of an Era: Streit’s Matzo Factory To Leave the Lower East Side

Fresh baked matzah from Streit's factory; Photo by ©Liz Rueven, www.kosherlikeme.com.

Fresh baked matzah from Streit’s factory;
Photo by ©Liz Rueven, www.kosherlikeme.com

After nearly 100 years, Streit’s Matzo Factory on the Lower East Side will be moving out. It’s especially sad to me because I give Jewish Food Tours in this neighborhood, and one of the highlights is stopping by the factory and store to get a taste of freshly baked matzah, still warm from the oven. It’s also a loss since it is one of the few remaining family owned businesses still standing in lower Manhattan, going back to the turn of the 19th century. (Hopefully Yonah Schimmel’s, Katz’s Deli, and Russ & Daughters will hang in there!) They will remain open until the end of this month, and move to their warehouse in New Jersey. Eventually they will reopen in a new location, to be announced!

Check out this article on npr to learn more.

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Making Matzah at the Factory

 

Henna: Hametz for Passover?

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©Noam Sienna: “A Contemporary Piece with the Hebrew Alphabet”

Recently I had the opportunity to speak with Noam Sienna about his research and discoveries regarding henna in the Middle East and Mediterranean, and he shared some interesting things about the practice in the Jewish communities with regards to Passover:

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©Noam Sienna: “A Contemporary Interpretation of Moroccan Style”

In Jewish communities, henna was not done during Passover, but rather right before. Because henna is made from dried and ground henna leaves (and not a grain product), it is not technically chametz or leaven. But it seems that because the process to make the henna dye resembles the making of dough for bread, it was considered to be analogous to chametz and therefore not permitted during the Passover holiday. Anthropologist Erich Brauer observed among Kurdish Jews in the 1940s that when making henna, they mixed henna powder with water and kneaded it in a bowl with sumac, an acidic spice; it was then left to sit for several hours or overnight to allow the henna to break down into a strong dye. Even though no rising or fermentation process took place, this process was referred to as hamirit hinna (‘henna’s yeast’) and therefore seen as inappropriate for Passover. In effort to use up their henna, early on the 14th of Nissan (the morning of the eve of the Seder) Kurdish and Moroccan Jews would apply it to their hair, hands, and feet, which would generally last one good week — the length of time of the holiday. 

Henna also occasionally appeared at the Mimounah — a unique North African festival immediately following Passover. (Perhaps it doesn’t appear more often because they had painted themselves right before the holiday, and therefore, their hands would still have had the stains.) Passover begins the fifty-day countdown to Shavuot (a harvest festival also commemorating the giving of the Torah), and on Mimounah there was a ritual of sending henna between boys and girls around the age of five, to mark the beginning of what was seen as an ‘engagement’ period between them and the Torah that would culminate in Shavuot. This union would be played out between a young boy and a young girl, whereby the family of the ‘groom’ would send henna, candies, and jewelry to the family of the ‘bride’ on Mimounah, followed by a mock ‘wedding’ on Shavuot (with the hope that perhaps one day when they are older — God willing — they will actually get married).”

For more information, please check out Noam Sienna’s blog and website:
Eshkol haKofer and Henna by Sienna

Passover images from around the world: Charoset Ice Cream in Israel

 

Passover images from around the world: A window in Paris

 

Podcast Encore Presentation: “Passover Portraits: Intimate Stories, Secret Cuisines & Sacred Rituals”

Happy Passover everyone!

If you missed my interview, you can now view my Podcast about Passover stories and rituals on:
“Secret Cuisines & Sacred Rituals” with Vilasi Venkatachalem!

(Interview from Friday, March 13th, 8am PT, 10am CT, 11am ET.)

 

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