These Normal Stories Expanded Stories, Linked from This Normal Life
Friday, May 07, 2004
Let me start off by saying that cooking has never been my forte. Growing up, my mother wouldn’t even let my brother and me into the kitchen. That was great as a kid, with all these wonderful meals magically appearing and us having virtually no idea how they came into being. But as an adult it has left me with certain limitations.
Before Jody and I were married, I ate out a lot. Between falafel and burgers and the occasional salad, I probably spent more on food than rent. There was a brief period where I bought a wok and actually got pretty good with stir frying veggies.
I don’t know where that wok is now, though. And in any case, it’s not kosher for Passover. Which leads us to the dilemma of the day.
It was chol hamoed Pesach – the intermediary days of Passover – when matza is still high on the food chain. Jody had to go out and the kids hadn’t eaten dinner yet. Not a good combination.
No sooner had Jody walked out the door when eleven-year-old Amir asked “What’s for dinner?”
“I’m hungry!” nine-year-old Merav demanded.
Five-year-old Aviv was practically asleep on the couch, but he managed a brief whimper to indicate that he concurred.
Usually during Pesach week, we feast on a whole lot of matza: chicken salad on matza, matza with tuna, matza with butter and salt, matza bagels, and matza mousse for dessert.
“Let’s check what we’ve got,” I suggested, putting on an expression of “exaggerated enthusiasm” as I had learned in a recent Dale Carnegie class.
We had eaten out for the Passover Seder itself so there were no serious leftovers. The cupboard wasn’t exactly bare, but it wasn’t overflowing either. All that we had on hand were a dozen eggs, three squares of butter and the aforementioned matza.
“Matza Brie!” I declared with all the passion of a yet-to-be-televised naked chef.
“Do you know how to make matza brie?” Merav asked, with more than a touch of cynicism in her voice.
“No,” I responded, “but how hard can it be? It’s just eggs and matza, right?”
I cracked five eggs into a bowl, whisked them together, poured them into a frying pan and then crumbled a single piece of matza into the mix.
“Abba, aren’t you supposed to use, like, five pieces of matza?” Merav commented.
“And I think you’re supposed to soak the matza before you put it in the pan,” Amir instructed with alarm.
“It will be fine,” I shot back. “Don’t worry.”
“Matza Brie is supposed to be like French Toast,” Merav added.
“This isn’t Matza Brie as you know it,” I said, thinking on my feet. “It’s a…a...matzomelete."
"Yes,” I continued, ”it’s the perfect food for a country constantly suffering from a matzav” (that ubiquitous Hebrew term for "the situation").
“When friends call from the States and ask how the matzav is, we can say – it’s just fine, because we’re having matzomeletes.”
I looked down from my reverie. The matzomelete was starting to stick to the pan. The moment of truth was at hand. The kids eyed the concoction suspiciously. I still hadn’t gained their trust. As I spatula’d it onto their plates, no one uttered the customary “he got more!” or “she got more!”
They took a bite.
“Not bad,” declared Amir.
“Pretty tasty,” said Merav.
“Got any ketchup?” asked Amir.
I had done it!
Later that evening, when Jody came home, I told her the story.
“Matzomeletes instead of matza brie, huh? See, I knew you could handle the kids. But I’ve got an even better idea.”
And then with a wink she said: “Let’s go upstairs. I bet we can cook up a little Matza Brian of our own.”