Today I had one of THOSE moments where something just shifted into place. They happen every so often. This particular moment happened in the grocery store as I stood there with a bad chest cold trying to figure out what ingredients to grab to make some chicken soup. My throat was sore, my head full and I was hacking somewhere between the pasta aisle and the kosher aisle. I realized I had a monumental decision to make.
Noodles or matzah balls?!
Growing up, like most midwestern Moms, my mother made me chicken soup when I was sick. It always had some kind of noodles or pasta in it. Sometimes, it was alphabet letters, other times wavy egg noodles and, if she was sick, too, sometimes it was those thin little sad excuses for noodles that lipton dry soups have. Always, though, it was noodles. I had never heard of, seen, or tasted a single matzah ball until I met my husband and at first, I was skeptical of them.
“So, it’s like a small ball of bread in your soup? Wow…um…ok. And this is a big deal?”
As most of you probably already know because you had a less farm centered childhood, matzah balls are a big deal. Some people like them big, almost softball size. Many people obsess over how to make the fluffiest matzah balls. Sephardic Jews have their own food traditions, but among Ashkenazi Jews (Jews descended from Eastern European Jews), matzah ball soup is a given. In some families, it might be on every Sabbath table and in others it might only make an appearance during Passover, but it’s called “Jewish penicillin” for the reason that when a Jewish child is sick, it’s usually matzah ball soup that his or her mother turns to as a cure all and noodles aren’t even in the equation.
And so, I stood there, my fever making my thinking a little fuzzy, trying to decide which sounded more comforting to me now. Obviously, no Rabbi is going to test me on which I choose. No one is going to quiz me over whether I made chicken noodle soup or matzah ball. It’s completely up to me…whichever I think will bring me the most comfort in my state of virus infestation.
I walked toward the kosher aisle, already thinking of puffy matzah balls floating in my soup and how much better that was going to be than any noodle I would find.
I didn’t even consider any deeper significance until later, but the soup was delicious and just what my poor sickly body was yearning for. Noodles…shmoodles.