Sunday, May 27, 2012

Matzo Ball Soup

Ok, so I'm a little late! Spring time in the states is virtually history, and Passover and Easter long gone—not that there's even an ounce of exposure to Jewish tradition around these parts, but still, some things should at least be acknowledged. Sometime over the holidays, I received a package that contained Matzo Ball Soup and Jelly Beans. Yum, the jelly beans practically broke my aging teeth, and the box of soup was stripped to save space and contained no directions.  But it did bring back distorted memories of Passover---”Lynnie,” my grandmother would screech, “how many matzo balls do you want?” “Six grandma,” to which I never got more than 3. Why she asked year after year is beyond me. But really now, my memory is not only of the Jewish New York accent screeching my name, but that my Grandma's matzo balls were perfect---they were not hard sinkers, they were not feather like floaters, they were perfect squiggly balls that fit on your spoon and tasted delicious. So I throw my directionless matzo ball soup in my Barbie like cupboards until the day I can figure out how to make it. Call me a purist, but if I'm ever gonna make this, I only want it tasting like my grandma's and nothing else, and this seemed impossible given it was from a box.  Man, I wish I would've been sent those good skinny noodles to put in the soup too!

It's May and it's getting pretty cold in Botswana, so a few weeks ago with my cupboards almost empty, I thought I would throw all caution to the wind, and reminiscent of my grandmother, the house starts to smell like Jewish Matzo Ball Soup. Yep, I figured it out, put my little Buddha statue on the table to pray for something to turn out good, and as I was admiring the walnut size balls growing in the soup, I hear sniffing, and a little voice saying “you're house is cooking.” Ah, Lefika, yes, I am making Matzo Ball Soup. “Maa what?” And before I know it he's peaking inside the pot, with a twisted look on his face, reporting that it doesn't smell or look like anything he's seen before, and then asked if we can throw the growing balls instead of eating them. Well, I haven't exactly invited you for dinner have I now, and if the balls are hard enough to throw, then, no, I haven't done a good grandma job here.

With Lefika not leaving, I sit him down and explain a little bit about the story of Passover, and how a guy named Elijah used to sneak in the door while we were eating and leave some lucky kid a dollar. He asked if he could have some, and I say of course, but let's give Keoki a bite first to see if it's edible. Keoki sniffs just like Lefika, and gobbles it down, so I guess it's ok. “How many balls can I have?” Huh, what is this I screech---you can only have one! So he looks, he plays with it, he scrunches his face, and tastes. This does not seem like a good sign to me, and just when I thought he was gonna run, or throw up, he says “Am I Jewish now, and where's my money?”

As I sat with my big bowl of 6 balls because grandma is not here to say no, I tell Lefika that he is not Jewish, that Elijah didn't come in because it's not really passover anymore---but what did happen is that we had a fun cultural exchange that you can tell your kids about one day. Looking at me, he says, “can I have another maazzaa ball?” Sure Lefika, anytime!

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