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Why on this day Matzah?

matza, photo by jesusOh dear it’s the second night of passover and I’m only now putting my matzah recipe online. I guess I’ve found it hard to write about matzah with all the bad news coming from Israel. I find myself torn, on the one hand I want to say, “I’m a diaspora ‘jew’ whose identity is neither defined nor dominated by my relationship to Israel”, but on the other hand I find myself repetitively tugged into a confrontation with it as it casts shadows over parts of my life. When will Israel give me a break!

I guess there’s a matzah theme in there. Matzah is the food of a people whose struggle for freedom took up all their time, leaving them very little for frivolities like decent baking. Compare matzah to bagels, chollah or black rye bread. They’re all much better breads than matzah, lets be honest, and they all take a considerable amount more time to make. For me, being involved with Palestine solidarity and other liberation movements often leaves me with very little time to enjoy other aspects of life. That’s why i think we eat matzah on this day, because the struggle for freedom often takes its toll on more fun things in life, as contradictory as that is. matza, photo by jesus

That said, I really appreciate the quote at the end of the beautiful Love and Justice in Times of War Haggadah zine – which I recommend with the most excessively hyperbolic recommendations possible:

“One final paragraph of advice: Do not burn yourself out. Be as I am – a reluctant enthusiast…a part time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it is still out there. So get out there and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, encounter the grizz, climb the mountains. Run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, that lovely, mysterious and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to yourmatza n marmite, photo by jesusbody, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much: I promise you this sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound people with their hearts in a safe deposit box and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. Ipromise you this: you will out-live the bastards.”

-Edward Abbey, author of the Monkey Wrench Gang, a book I do so like.

Get On with the Recipe!

OK, sorry for the whining, here’s my recipe. I basically wrote it for the Jewish food section of the fantastic vegan cookbook, Another Dinner is Possible. (2nd ed.)

The quantities given below are small so that one person can make it all against the clock. There shouldn’t be more than seventeen minutes between the first drop of moisture touching the flour and the matzah coming out the oven, so be ready to do the recipe quickly!

Remember you can do versatile things with your matzah: use it as a pizza base, blend it into matza meal or make “Emma Golman Matzos”: cover in a layer of caramel and then a layer of chocolate.

matza, photo by jesusIngredients:

  • 300ml flour (try weird flours!)
  • 100ml cold water or 75ml cold water and 25ml oil. (oil makes a crumblier matzah)
  • salt
  • a rolling pin
  • a fork
  • a timer


Turn the oven on as hot as it will get. Sift the flour, measure your water. Start the timer, 17 minutes, knead! Pull out golf ball sized doughs and roll out as thinly as possible. Use a fork to prick holes in lines along the dough and gently pull at its sides to increase their size a bit. Throw this into a matza, photo by jesusthe oven and bake for 2-3 min until crispy. Done!

Pesach presents:

I found some wonderful old Yiddish and English passover cookbooks to download:

Manischewitz Passover Cookbook – New York, 1944

Planters Kosher Peanut Oil Passover Cookbook, feat. Mr. Peanut

And look, a whole list of free progressive Haggados! Thank you everyone for making these and Cole Krawitz for compiling them together!

matza, photo by jesus

matza, photo by jesus

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4 thoughts on “Why on this day Matzah?”

  1. I will ask my wife to make this – if she feels like it. Then I could eat it.

    It doesn’t look too bad.

    Perhaps with a bit of helal marmalade from the corner store?

  2. Poppadoms are fried!

    It looks like Dovid spread marmite (or is it Christian Blood?) on one the matzah in the third picture. Yeast! Yeast on a passover bread! Sinful.

    John, your low-fi facebook wall is way retro. Who said html4 tables were dead! tdtr on!

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