Reading Ruth Reichl‘s Garlic and Sapphires left me with among other things, a curiosity about the tastes and origins of some of her home-cooked food, as well as her restaurant experiences. The simplest recipe included in her autobiographical story of food criticism in The Big Apple is called Matzo Brei. Living in a pocket of North West England means that culture is something you have to actively look for. A few miles out of town and the streets begin to display more diversity and a glimpse of the cultures beyond this sceptered isle. Here though, in a coastal resort town with a transient population and a seasonal tide of unemployment and washed-up tourism, you’d have to look carefully to identify different faith communities and ethnic groups. Growing up here means that children aren’t exposed to anything more than white Western culture. It’s easy then, to understand my curiosity when reading a Jewish recipe for what has become a popular breakfast and comfort food for Jews all over the world.
It was with some excitement that I purchased a box of Matzo crackers a few weeks ago in my local supermarket’s world food section. To be perfectly honest, I’ve been buttering the crackers and chomping noisily on them whilst preparing dinner each evening. It wasn’t until today that I decided to make Matzo Brei using Ruth Reichl’s simple recipe. As a big fan of scrambled eggs, I was hoping to find a new fun breakfast for Saturday mornings and was keen to sample this Jewish dish.
The crackers are broken up into pieces and soaked in some water in a colander until they are damp and beginning to soften. Once added to a bowl with a couple of eggs, they’re seasoned with a little salt and stirred. Butter is melted in a pan and the mixture cooked gently. The mixture can be formed into little pancakes, or as in Ruth Reichl’s recipe, broken up like scrambled eggs. I followed the recipe carefully (how could I go wrong?) and sat down eagerly with the finished dish and a glass of iced coffee (my new addiction). I’m glad that I tried this out and it was certainly interesting, but lets just say that I won’t be in a hurry to ditch my buttery scrambled eggs each Saturday…