The informant is my film partner (referred to as MR) who has a Jewish mother and was raised Jewish. This is the recipe his Jewish grandmother has passed down for Matzo Ball Soup. He said his grandmother was living in Florida before she passed, despite having lived most of her life in New Jersey in a primarily Jewish community. He says, Matzo Ball Soup is a Jewish dish served at Passover.
Ingredients (taken down from a handwritten note in the recipe book):
- 4 large eggs
- ¼ cup “schmaltz” rendered chicken fat or coconut oil
- ¼ cup chicken stock
- 1 cup matzo meal
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 to 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
- 1 teaspoon Allspice
MR: “While the recipe is written down, my grandmother has it memorized and tells me the directions by heart. I can’t make it by heart, but I know the directions she has told me several times while I watch her in the kitchen.”
The informant then looks at the recipe to remind himself of the steps.
MR: She told me to put the eggs, schmaltz, chicken stock, matzo, ginger, nutmeg, and parsley in a large bowl. And then add in the salt and Allspice. Mix a little with a spoon, and cover and then place in the refrigerator overnight.
I remember her holding up a deep brown pan and saying to put the matzo balls in a pan with salted water in order to boil. With wet hands— they have to be wet— take some of the mix and mold it into the size of a golf ball. Put them in boiling water and leave it for about 40 minutes. Then you put them in the soup, that’s it!”
I think this recipe is mainly interesting because it is recalled by heart by his grandmother. This shows how ingrained in the culture Matzo Ball Soup is. For his family and many Jewish families, Matzo Ball soup is a form of folklore in the sense that it is passed down through generations and verbally spoken and memorized. It is sacred in the sense that it commemorates a religious celebration (Passover).