Monday, November 17, 2014

A post unrelated to shirts

Rather than dwell on the scandals of the social-media moment,* I'm going to revisit a topic I wrote about in 2004. Yes, matzo. Specifically, the question of matzo marketing. Recently I was listening to Dan Pashman's podcast about matzo, which is very much about matzo as a year-round food. One interesting tidbit was that religious Jews are apparently less concerned with matzo flavor-purity than are secular Jews. According to a guest expert, secular Jews think it's not kosher-in-the-colloquial-sense to have flavored matzos, whereas observant Jews will have... whatever is the matzo equivalent of a blueberry bagel, as long as it's kosher-in-the-religious-sense. Also intriguing, if not so surprising, given the year-round availability of matzo in regular supermarkets: lots of people agree that it's a better cracker than that which is sold as crackers.

But I was also struck by Pashman's intro, which consisted of this... almost apology for taking on a Judeo-centric culinary topic. I get that part of it is because he's introducing a Southern Baptist matzo-producer, but he also seems genuinely concerned that he'll have listeners who will be like, 'ugh, what's this Jew doing, telling us about all of this Jew food we don't care about!' That intro reminded me of nothing more than intros to monographs I read in grad school, where the author explains that a book about French Jews is really one about France, apologizing for having dared broach such a particular subject... as though it were possible to write an academic text of that sort that covered France generally. And I kept wondering, would Lynne Rosetto Kasper apologize for an item on Italian-American cuisine? I mean, maybe she does this and I don't notice it? Somehow, though, I doubt it. There's something specifically Jewish, I think, in this fear, this overcompensation for being thought to think we're "chosen." And I mean no disrespect to Pashman - I'm sure I do this as well. I doubt if being aware of it much helps.

Anyway, I'm also remarking on this because: matzo brei! Now that's a food with which to alienate Gentiles, as well as, alas, some Jews.

*OK, one final, personal note: For all the talk of TBTB and so forth, in my own, day-to-day life, I'm surrounded by scientists, most of whom are men, and all of whom dress much better than I do. I think it may relate to their being European. Or just to the number of items in my closet splattered from matzo-brei preparation.


David Schraub said...

I'm in the anti Matzo Brei camp, but in the pro "Matzah" spelling camp.

Phoebe said...

Why? Hebrew vs. Yiddish transliteration?

David Schraub said...

I always assume these things are some deep Polish Jew/German Jew division. But I have no actual idea.