A Matzo Quiz

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Matzo is a Passover food that some prefer straight up, while others think that the topic needs a bit of leavening. For the latter, four questions:

1. How is this matzo different from all the others (top row, second from right)?

Even though most of the 14 brands and flavors represented here were made simply of flour and water, they do not taste the same. This is the only matzo of the group shown here that is made with grape juice and honey instead of water.

2. Can it last forever?

Manischewitz estimates its matzo shelf life is about 2 1/2 years. But stale matzo can be re-crisped in a 250-degree oven for about five minutes.

3. Do only humans enjoy matzo? 

The April issue of Hadassah Magazine ran the photo, which shows gorillas enjoying matzo at Safari Park in Ramat Gan, outside Tel Aviv. The magazine says that during Passover, the park feeds its animals only food that is certified kosher for the holiday.

4. What's the best matzo joke on the Internet?

The best (family newspaper-friendly) matzo joke on the Internet, as judged and rewritten by Washington Post Magazine columnist Gene Weingarten:

Hadassah Magazine ran this photo of gorillas enjoying matzo.
Hadassah Magazine ran this photo of gorillas enjoying matzo.( - Getty Images Europe)
An engineer gets a contract to build a new jet fighter for the Israeli air force. He builds the plane, but on its first practice run, both wings fall off in flight. Same thing happens the second flight, and the third. Deeply distraught, the engineer goes to his rabbi for solace. The rabbi hears the story and gives the engineer some advice: Drill a line of holes on the top and the bottom of each wing, right where it connects with the fuselage. Do that, the rabbi says, and you won't have a problem.

The engineer thinks this is crazy, but he is desperate. So he does what the rabbi said, and, sure enough, the wings stay on. Elated, the engineer goes back to the rabbi and asks how he knew this would work.

"Listen, son. I've been in this business 50 years. I have attended 50 Passover seders. And let me tell you, not once have I seen a matzo break at the perforation."

-- Bonnie S. Benwick

Guide to the matzos from the covoer of Food: Nos. 1, 2, 3, 5, 6 and 8 were purchased at Koshermart in Rockville; Nos. 2, 12 and 13 from Giant; No. 4 from Dean & DeLuca; No. 7 from Whole Foods Market; No. 9 from Harris Teeter; Nos. 10 and 11 from Wegmans; No. 14 from Safeway. Ingredients are as listed on the box.

Top row, left to right:

1. RAKUSEN'S MATZOS (made in London).

Amount/calories: 14-ounce box/80 calories per piece.

Ingredients: Wheat flour, water.

Taste: More burnt on 1 side than the other. Not so crisp.

2. STREIT'S PASSOVER SPELT MATZO

Amount/calories: 11-ounce box/110 calories.

Ingredients: Passover spelt flour, water.

Taste: Hearty alternative to wheat flour, higher in protein. More to chew.

3. AVIV HONEY MATZOS (new)

Amount/calories: 10.5-ounce box/114 calories.

Ingredients: Wheat flour, grape juice, honey.

Taste: Definitely clear it's something other than water. Sweet aftertaste. Would be liked by kids.

4. ERIC BUR PAIN AZYME CROUSTILLANT A LA FARINE DE FROMENT

Amount/calories: About 7 ounces/70 calories.

Ingredients: Wheat flour, water.

Taste: Crispy, thin, designer/Euro matzoh for those who don't care whether it's kosher for Passover.

Second row, left to right:

5. AVIV WHEAT BRAN MATZOS

Amount/calories: 14.1-ounce box/100 calories.

Ingredients: Wheat flour, bran, water.

Taste: Nutty, hearty. Handsome package.

6. BNEI BRAK PASSOVER MATZOS

Amount/calories: 16-ounce box/117 calories.

Ingredients: Wheat flour, water.

Taste: Fresh-baked, matzo tang, crispier than most. More pieces per box.

7. YEHUDA ORGANIC MATZOS

Amount/calories: 16-ounce box/110 calories.

Ingredients: Organic whole wheat flour, water.

Taste: Made fresh in the desert. Whole wheat creates dry mouthfeel. Dusty light brown color. Thinner than many.

Third row, left to right:

8. HAGADA PASSOVER MATZOS (Bnei Brak)

Amount/calories: 16-ounce box/117 calories.

Ingredients: Flour, water.

Taste: Doughy, evenly light brown, not too crisp, bland.

9. YEHUDA WHOLE WHEAT MATZOS

Amount/calories: 16-ounce box/100 calories.

Ingredients: Whole wheat flour, water.

Taste: Distinctively whole wheat. Very crisp. Could not eat a whole piece without liquid accompaniment.

10. OSEM ISRAELI MATZAH WITH A MITZVAH

Amount/calories: 16-ounce box/120 calories.

Ingredients: Wheat flour, water.

Taste: Pleasing matzo flavor, not overly toasted. A soft crunch.

11. OSEM LIGHT ISRAELI MATZAH WITH A MITZVAH

Amount/calories: 10.5-ounce box/88 calories.

Ingredients: Whole wheat flour, wheat bran, water.

Taste: Mild, crumbles easily. Label says "Reduced Carbs 30% Less Carbs Than Regular Matzah."

Fourth row, left to right:

12. STREIT'S 100% WHOLE WHEAT PASSOVER MATZOS

Amount/calories: 11-ounce box/110 calories.

Ingredients: Passover whole wheat flour, water.

Taste: Labeled as "Baked with pride on the lower east side New York City." Wrapper on the outside only. Rough and dry to the touch, definite whole wheat taste. Grainy.

13. MANISCHEWITZ UNSALTED MATZOS (not for Passover)

Amount/calories: 10-ounce box/110 calories.

Ingredients: Unbleached enriched wheat flour (ferric orthophosphate, niacin, thiamine hydrocloride, riboflavin, folic acid), water.

Taste: Burnt, dusky taste, not crunchy at all. Wrapper on the outside means no cellophane liners on the inside (which may better preserve the matzo).

14. MANISCHEWITZ PASSOVER THIN TEA MATZOS

Amount/calories: 10-ounce box/100 calories.

Ingredients: Passover wheat flour, water.

Taste: Somewhat gummy when chewed; not appreciably thinner than other matzos.


© 2006 The Washington Post Company