A Love Letter to Matzo

For as long as I can remember, two boxes of holey cardboard have appeared on my parents’ countertop each spring. It's the best time of year.

<p>Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez</p>

Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

I would not say these are the best of times. I would not say these are the chillest of times. I would not say, as we emerge from a dark and hot winter into a wet and hotter spring, that these are the most predictable of times. And yet I cannot tell you how excited I am that we are barreling toward Passover. Passover sucks (a week-plus of unleavened meals, a distinct heaviness in the form of constant reminders of our past, too much sugar-wine, etc.), but it always brings matzo times. And I positively adore matzo times.

To be clear: Matzo sucks, too. No, I hear you—matzo is a mammothly important food, a colossally symbolic one. No, no really—I understand (I will attach my Hebrew high school certificate here, where is yours?!)! But also, matzo is a worse version of a large and stale salt-free Saltine. Even when it’s at its absolute freshest and best, it’s still the same level of bad as when it’s been sitting inside a box in a damp basement for 11 and ¾ months. What other foods can you name that are, without exception, always at their very best…and simultaneously at their very worst? Matzo is so bad. I still love matzo.

Over the past few months, we have been subjected to the introduction of Girl Dinner, #WaterTok, Fruit Roll-Up ice cream, the cottage cheese-ification of everything…you’re familiar, I’m sure. Do you know what wasn’t featured in anyone’s Girl Dinners? Broken shards of solid flour-water. Do you know what no one was eating that made them so thirsty, prompting them to bum-rush an area Target and monopolize all the Stanleys? Holy holey cardboard. Matzo will never go viral. Nobody wants it to! None of us aspire to live in a world where matzo is aspirational. And that’s just some of the beauty of matzo.

Over the course of the next week, on the internet and IRL, we will see lush vats of charoset, hacks for horseradish housing, and takes on how to best arrange a Seder plate amidst a larger Seder spread, but no one will talk about matzo. We will all sit there and grimace as we pile charoset and then horseradish onto the vehicle that is matzo—a mandated player at the same table—and comment on everything we just ate…except for the matzo. To be clear, matzo will make continuous appearances in all this super-cute Seder content across the world during the holiday…but it will likely be enveloped in gorgeous, sentimental matzo covers, never to be seen by the naked eye. What other foods can you name that are, without exception, so synonymous with a holiday but nobody wants to talk about eating them? 

Every year for as long as I can remember, right around the time the sun starts rising closer to 6 a.m. than to 7, two boxes of matzo appear on my parents’ countertop right by the coffee machine. They’re not prepping for Passover quite yet; not explicitly. But they’re slowly rotating buttered or cream-cheesed pieces of it into their breakfast routines. Different pots of toppings—sweet preserves, salty spreads, straight salt for that already salty butter—end up spread around their plates. They mix and match their matzo toppings from piece to piece. They offer me a piece every time, every single year, across days in February and the beginning of March, always insisting the strawberry jam makes it so much better. It doesn’t, and they know it, but it’s nice that we all pretend.

A few weeks later, fresh boxes stack up on their counter, next to the fridge, on the table. There’s a lot of fucking matzo before there’s none at all for months and months. I love the brown-and-yellow stacks of boxes. I love the pre-matzo times that every single year dovetail us right into the matzo times. They are completely predictable, unremarkable times, and I love the bowel-clogging cracker that ushers all of it in.

Passover sucks. Matzo sucks. I love Passover. I love the matzo times.

Read the original article on Serious Eats.