Thursday, April 5, 2012

Do Your Balls Measure Up?

Proverb:  The wise person remembers that it is impossible to please everyone; the fool only makes one size of matzo balls. 

During the Passover seder, it is traditional to ask four questions (really, it’s one question and four answers).  But before we even get that far, there are at least four questions that the cook must ask, regarding the holy and ageless issue of The Making of the Matzo Balls:

            1. Dense or fluffy?

            2. Cooked in the soup or boiled separately?

            3. From a mix or from scratch?

And most importantly:
            4. Small or large?

My answers are 1) fluffy; 2) separately, and 3) from a mix.  But I am always in a quandary about the size of the balls. Last fall, as part of our pre-fast meal on the eve of Yom Kippur, I made chicken soup with matzo balls.  Remembering my mother-in-law's comments about my matzo balls the previous year, I decided this time to make the matzo balls into a variety of sizes. 

A lot of food shrinks when cooked, but matzo balls expand.  So if my smallest raw matzo ball was ½ inch in diameter, it would be about ¾ inch when cooked.  To put it scientifically, the raw matzo balls displayed here would range from 0.75 to 1.875 inches in diameter when cooked.  

We are at dinner, and I am serving the soup from the kitchen.  I ask my mother-in-law, “What size matzo ball would you like – small, medium, or large?”  She replies, “Small.”  I serve her the smallest one.  She says, “What’s this?  Is this all the matzo ball I get?”  Husband says, “Ma, you asked for small.  You got small.”

This is probably the same reaction the Israelites had when they left Egypt and started their long trek in the wilderness.  The Israelites said, “Is this all we get?”  And Moses said unto them, “You asked for freedom.  You got freedom.  Start walking.” 

This year I have gained a freedom of my own – my mother-in-law will not be attending our seder.   So I guess our balls can be any size we like.


Anonymous said...

I have been laughing at this for a long while. funny! Love, Gretchen Duff

Cassi said...

In an ideal world, your MIL would be so happy that you have decided to go to the effort of creating a meal whose traditions you don't share. But I worry that there aren't any ideal MILs, which is probably why we don't live in an ideal world.

I have never had a matzo ball. They look a bit like dumplings? However, I think your plate display is very artistic :-)

Anonymous said...

TOO funny. I give you a lot of credit for having a sense of humor. Sometimes family can be enormously difficult.