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ZAK: The Jewish holiday of Passover is coming up this week. It's a holiday commemorating the Israelite's liberation from slavery in Egypt. And today on Food Friday we have some advice about Passover, celebration, symbolism and liberation. Our guide is Liz Alpern. She's a Jewish food entrepreneur, educator and cook author.
ZAK: To start, for our non-Jewish friends, what is matzah and why do we eat it on Passover?
LIZ: So, matzah is a ritual food of Passover. A ceremonial food of Passover. And so, it is essentially like a cracker or a flatbread and it has symbolic meaning because in the story of Passover, in the story of Exodus that's told during the Passover holiday, the whole idea is that the Jews were slaves in Egypt and they fled very quickly. And they barely could bring anything with them and so they, like, didn't have time for their bread to rise and so they threw some flour on their back and kind of got the hell out of dodge. You know what I mean? And so, matzah is bread. That biblical bread that is associated with this fleeing of Egypt and on a spiritual level there's this whole process that you do in your life but it's supposed to have a spiritual element to it. I mean, "supposed to" in air quotes. You clean your house of all of the leavened products. You get rid of them leading up to the holiday. And so there's this spiritual meaning that I've learned around this which is about confronting your ego. Confronting all the things that are puffed up. Confronting the stuff that you're carrying that is maybe taking up too much space, right? And so this idea of this cleansing process maybe the week before and then during Passover eating this humble, flat bread that is like, the literal symbol of what it is to be humbled has a lot of spiritual meaning and the way it's translated is that it's the bread of affliction...this bread that symbolizes the experience of slavery.
ZAK: How do you do it? How do you make your own matzah?
LIZ: My gosh. So easy. You take some flour. You mix some water. Basically, it's 4 parts flour to 1 part water. So, I mix this very, very, very basic dough. I roll it out as thin as I can. I break it up into some chunks. Roll it out, thin, thin, thin, thin. Poke some holes in it and I throw it in the oven and I bake it for about 5-6 minutes total.