As Passover beckons, you’re likely to see the stores filling up with one very special (not to mention holy!) type of flatbread. Matzo is everywhere at the moment. But how much do you really know about it? Steeped in religious significance, there’s a whole load of facts you should know about this simple baked good. Here are just five.
1. It has many names
Matzo, matzah, matza, matzoh… This is a bread with many different names. Since the word comes from Hebrew and has no direct English translation, you will hear people refer to it in a variety of ways.
As if that weren’t confusing enough, it’s sometimes called the “bread of affliction” or “poor bread.” These are translations of the terms used for the bread in the Torah, which are now used by English-speakers around the world.
2. The world’s largest matzo ball was made in New York
Back in 2009, one of the most exciting foodie Guinness World Records was set. Yes, the largest matzo ball was made by Noah’s Ark Original Deli in New York. According to the official site, the giant bread ball consisted of 1,000 eggs, 80 pounds of margarine, 20 pounds of chicken base and 200 pounds of matzo meal. That’s a whole lot of ingredients. What’s more, the finished result weighed a whopping 267 pounds. That’d be a lot of matzo ball soup!
3. The first matzo machine was invented in 1838
Ever wondered how they produce so much matzo? Well, it’s quite simple, really. Back in 1838, a French man named Isaac Singer was the first to invent the dough-rolling machine that would help mass-produce the bread. When the machine was first unveiled to the public, many rabbis refused to accept it. However, over the years, it became the fastest, easiest way to make matzo.
4. It has to be made in 18 minutes
To make a traditional matzo, you’re going to have to be pretty speedy. The bread has to be made within a short and sweet 18-minute window. If you end up running over the deadline, the baked result can no longer be called a matzo. Instead, it is known as a chametz or “leavened matzo” and cannot be consumed by Jews during the holy time of Passover.
5. There’s a reason Jewish people eat it during Passover
Have you ever wondered why Jewish people eat only matzo (and no other leavened bread products) during Passover? According to the Torah, when the Egyptian Pharaoh finally agreed to set the enslaved Jews free, they had to leave fast. The Pharaoh soon changed his mind and decided to chase Moses’ people.
That meant that they had very little time to prepare food for the long journey ahead. So, rather than baking bread, they made a simple concoction of flour and water, which came out flat when baked. The result was (yep) matzo.
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