you are not to eat any hametz with it; for seven days you are to eat with it matzah, the bread of affliction; for you came out of the land of egypt in haste. thus you will remember the day you left the land of egypt as long as you live. deuteronomy 16:3
I think relativity is a difficult thing to grasp in the absence of cosmic bodies or Einsteinian intellect. Mathematically, it has a lot to do with triangulation, planetary perspectives, and a universal constant known as light: a visual, traveling narrative originating from nucleic explosions. When the earth’s face is away from the sun, I can see these light stories streaming in from other stars in fanciful patterns drawn up to represent our terrestrial birth. They have names like Scorpio and Cancer, or, in my case, Aquarius. Aquarians are water bearers. We carry a vessel. Like other vessels that have gone through a millennial of star-gazing, it has quite a few amenable cracks.
I’m not much of an expert in religion, or even believer of astrological divination, but I think, as a human, I am just carrying my own brand of broken, open vessel across the desert of life, trying my best to hold on to my constantly evaporating source of leaky water. If I’m lucky, I’ll run into other humans carrying broken vessels. Sometimes, I see them on a distant dune, waving, yelling, providing directions towards the next watering hole. It’s hard to hear their gestures because the winds of sand obscure perception, clarity, empathy… so I keep plodding on and on until I’m just a bleached whale under a desert sun. Sometimes, my mind misleads me, brings me to a visage of sanctuary, an oasis that promises nourishment, water, and affirmation. I traipse from one to another, not knowing whether to stay, stray, or believe in my luck of such a vibrant imagination.
When each day ends, the stars reappear and I look up. I must look up because if I look down, there’s nothing but my own toes sinking into moving sand. I re-orient myself in accordance to cardinal directions, but I’m no astrophysicist, so I mistake a meteor for a symbol, mindlessly pursuing nugatory superbolides because I confuse absence for comfort or distance for security. It’s true I will end up similarly barren like those shelterless dunes, but in my vessel I’ve stored my own unique story of emptiness. It’s good to share it with others along the way because stories about despondency are like a desert waterfall. They dispense a rare, thirst-quenching rivulet They lead us to one another in the dark.
If we listen closely, perhaps, we will find that relativity is understanding that we can’t understand, at least, not wholly, how it feels to hold a different vessel with different holes. Instead, we could fill one another’s futile vessels with our own, unique style of food, because thirst and hunger is universal, but cooking – that’s human. Let’s share this mythological oasis in our vessels, and it’s clearly not going to last forever, our bodies and its hunger, if filled with sustenance from without.
It’s playing with fire, of sorts. Or at least an arm full of vegetables and fruit of our choosing. In honor of this trip through the desert and the eventual liberation from the shackles of a hungry heart my vessel holds strawberries and rhubarb. They are a match made in culinary heaven, and in the hands of eggs and matzah, they dance sweetly to the tune of an herbal Brei. Make some for your own vessel and share what you can with other humans on an exodus from pain, before this journey ends.
This is better the longer it is allowed to marinade – do it the night before if you can.
1/2 oz tarragon leaves
1/2 c cream
1/2 TB sugar
+ remove leaves from tarragon and mash using a mortar and pestle. this releases the flavor and juices from the herb. remove the crushed leaves and place in a small glass bowl. use the milk to remove ‘wash’ the tarragon juices from the mortar/pestle. empty the milk into the bowl with the tarragon and allow to sit, chilled in the fridge until you’re ready to cook your matzah brei.
Strawberries in Rhubarb Sauce
+ 1/2 lb rhubarb (~ 1 large stalk), cubed
1/4 c water
1/4 c sugar
1 ts lemon juice
1 pint of fresh strawberries, sliced
+ cook the rhubarb on gentle heat with sugar, water, and lemon juice until the fibers disintegrate. Puree the contents in a food processor until smooth. Toss the puree with sliced strawberries and set aside.
Sweet, Herbal Matzah Brei
5 matzah sheets
1 c milk
1/4 ts cinnamon
1 vanilla bean, deseeded
1 TB sugar
1 ts salt
7 TB butter, separated
1/3 c chopped mint and tarragon
+ Whisk milk, cinnamon, vanilla bean, sugar, and salt until the sugar disintegrates.
+ Break the matzah sheets into small pieces. Next, fold them into the milk 15 times. Then, using a slotted spoon, remove them and put them in a bowl.
+ There should be a little bit of milk left in the bowl. To this, add eggs and whisk until incorporated. Next, melt 4 TB of butter in a 8″ nonstick skillet on medium low heat. Add this and the herbs to the milk mixture and whisk until combined.
+ Melt the remaining butter in the skillet, maintaining low, even heat. Add the matzah back to the eggy milk and fold the herbs into the bread. Put this batter into the skillet and keep a watchful eye. The whole thing should be fairly solid. Too much heat and it will brown unevenly. Use a flexible spatula to keep an eye on the bottom of the skillet once it turns solid. When it’s golden, flip the bread-like pancake by using a plate like a lid. Flip the pan over, carefully but quickly. Then, slice the matzah pancake back onto the skillet and continue cooking until it’s golden brown. This might take a bit of watching/waiting depending on your skillet’s ability to dissipate heat and the strength of your burner. I used this waiting time to whip the cream.
+ While the brei is getting slowly solidified, prepare your whipped cream. Use a fine mesh strainer to discard the green fibers. Then whip the cream until it’s holding its shape but not fully whipped. Add your sugar and continue whipping until it easily holds its peak.