By Rabbi Rachel Esserman
My family has long eaten matzah all year-round. For dessert (we didn’t have cake or cookies around the house), my father would regularly eat a piece of matzah slathered with jam. My preference is for whole wheat matzah and it’s always in my cupboard. I’ve been eating more of it lately because my doctor recommended I watch the amount of sodium that is in my diet. (FYI: that matzah contains no sodium.) It makes a great snack plain (yes, I do eat it with nothing on it), or as a treat with jam. When I’m running late for breakfast, matzah and peanut butter make a terrific duo. If I really want that breakfast to be special, I add some jam. Although I don’t keep butter in the house on a regular basis, my memories of eating matzah with whipped butter during Passover make my mouth start to drool.
That means it didn’t seem strange to me to get publicity material about the Matzo Project, a company that also knows matzah is good to eat all year-round, especially if you tweak it a bit. Although deliberately not kosher for Passover, its food is certified kosher by the Orthodox Union and is also vegan, nut-free, dairy-free, and all-natural. For those who keep kosher, that means you can use most of its products for meat and dairy meals, or as an anytime snack.
According to its website, Matzo Project began when “summer camp friends Ashley Albert and Kevin Rodriguez set out to bake a new take on the culturally beloved, but traditionally flavorless box of matzo. Instead, they got a super-snappy, extra-sturdy, crazy-versatile cracker that goes with every single thing they’ve tried to put on it.” The packaging includes a cartoon version of a grandmother asking, “Would it kill you to try something new?”
I figure that since I like matzah and enjoy trying new things – at least I do as an adult; I was a really picky eater as a kid – I’d ask the PR person to send me some samples. I received packages of four different types of matzah bites: small matzah crackers that the package calls “The Cutest Little Matzo Bits.” So, nu, are they any good? I am happy to say they are great. When looking at the package in The Reporter office, I immediately opened the cinnamon sugar flavored one. It has a great cinnamon taste without being too sweet. The Reporter bookkeeper was in the office, too, and tried one. What did she think? She immediately came back for seconds, which I think is answer enough.
The next afternoon, I decided to do an additional taste testing. The (sea) salted chips – those parentheses are on the package – were not too salty and, while fine to eat plain, would be great with any dip, cheese or hummus. The harissa-flavored chips had a bit of kick at the end, which increased the more chips I ate. However, the result was tasty, rather than mouth burning, which was a plus for me. The final chip was the “everything plus two other things” chip that, believe it or not, tasted like a bagel chip. It would be perfect with butter or cream cheese, but you could also fancy it up with other treats.
The website features a few other matzah products, including matzah ball soup that’s vegetarian and all natural (and includes instructions on how to make sinkers or floaters – who knew it was how much oil you use?), matzah crumbs, matzah flats (a larger version of the salted or everything chips) and, during the cooler weather, milk chocolate and dark chocolate matzah clusters. Oh, those clusters look good. I wonder if they’ll be sending out samples? If so, add me to the list!
Matzo Project products can be found in specialty stores or ordered through its website, www.matzoproject.com.