Bread haunts me so. I am not supposed to eat it this week (a Passover thing) and so, it teases. And lures. And promises me I can’t live without it.
The scale reconfirms Jewish law: I can live without it (the scale insists for longer than one measly week). The rolls forming on my gut reconfirm that Jewish law and scale are correct (when did this happen?) But the bread, ah the bread, in all its glorious forms is insurmountable torture to go without. There are warm bagels sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds and spread with generous seas of creamy cream cheese or ciabata bread, with its extra chewy crunch on the outside, torn open to reveal those craters of dough forming planet-like surfaces which beckon wild blueberry jam to get trapped and devoured in. And of course, let’s not forget the French epi loaf with thorns of golden crunch running up and down the captivating baguette like an edible spine. I am shameless with this loaf, leaving intellect behind, notions of carbs and calories and such; I just tear at these spines, ripping whole chunks of epi off their vine and devour them warm and whole, slathering the occasional hunk of butter or brie, if I have self-control or time or either. These are breads I can’t live without.
So, yes, the idea of a boxed cracker called matzo…well, pales in comparison. Don’t get me wrong. I look forward to the initial matzo meeting. There is nothing quite like a whole piece of matzo slathered with butter and a toxic sprinkling of salt. This is how my father taught me to eat matzo and almost anything else: butter and a toxic sprinkling of salt. Butter and salt is how the purists do it, the Israelis, or sabras: the real matzo men (and women). Other ways seem pointless after that. And I’ve tried: egg salad, peanut butter, chopped chicken liver. Some work. Some scream out for the real yeast deal.
I admit then that that first, second, even third piece of matzo was delightful, delicious, a real embracing of my Jewish roots and a straight shot back to my childhood, where, finding matzo in the Latin Catholic country of Venezuela was a feat in itself. But then pieces got stuck in my teeth. And I had to pick them out. And I felt I had eaten cement. Lots and lots of cement with butter. And horribly so, the charoset, that lovely Passover delicacy of dates, figs, apples, nuts and wine, ran out. That stuff does wonders to a piece of matzo. Right up there with the butter. But when I went dry on that, the matzo went awfully dry.
So somehow I found myself traveling to every bakery for every other possible thing one would get at a bakery: truffle mousse at Le Croissant Time, fresh pasta at Doris (strategically placed by their bakery), hazelnut coffee at the bagel shop. I knew this would not end well for me. I understood it was not fair to me. I have no self-control when it comes to food. None. Zero. It is not in my DNA like food and all things food is. Guilt riddles me somewhat, but then that wafting of warm dough sings and dances in my nostrils and I inevitably cave, like I did this Passover, like I did last.
I don’t go crazy on the bread: a fugitive sandwich in a darkened room, a warm bagel incognito in the car on the run. Abstract places for abstract delights. There is no outright celebration of all things yeast, but still, I can’t bear to turn them away, not even for the week. I hope to not have let anyone down: my rabbi, God, my scale. And so I keep the matzo box nearby, just so. And the butter is always soft.
matzo with butter
1 piece of matzo
tons of butter
toxic sprinkling of sea salt
slather butter and salt on matzo. enjoy.