Recipe – USA


“Matzah Brie”
Philip informed me that he first learned the recipe for Matzah Brie during Passover, a Jewish holiday that takes place on the 15th day of Nisan (from the Hebrew Calendar), and celebrates the Jews’ exodus from slavery in Egypt.  As the story goes, the Jews were in such a hurry to leave that they had no time to wait for their bread to rise and were forced to eat unleavened bread.  As a result, Jews are not allowed to consume leavened bread, yeast, flour, or grain for one week.  Matzah, the cracker like unleavened bread that Jews eat during this week is dry and has virtually no taste.  As a result, Jews have been coming up with different recipes and ways to mix and experiment with it for several years.  One such creation consisting of matzah is known as “Matzah Brie,” or the “kosher for Passover” French toast to some (something that is “Kosher for Passover” is ok to eat during the holiday).  The creation has no definite recipe, but generally is made with matzah soaked in eggs, just like French toast.  Philip however, has added his own ingredients to the already folk recipe to create his own “Matzah Brie.”  He begins by mashing the matzah up into small pieces.  He then soaks the matzah in beaten eggs (the number of eggs depends on the amount of matzah used, which depends on the number of people he is cooking for).  Then he adds 3 different types of cheese; American, Swiss, and Cheddar, as well as chopped tomato, onion, garlic, and mushrooms.  After he lets this stand for 5 minutes, he puts it all into a frying pan and slowly adds butter as everything cooks.  He cooks the food for about 10 minutes, until everything is hot, and then serves.  Fortunately for those who don’t like vegetables and cheese, he has devised different ways of altering the recipe  One such way is to follow the more traditional, “French toast” type, in which he doesn’t add cheese or vegetables, but instead substitutes sugar, a bit of honey, and then after cooked, some powdered sugar.  This obviously has a much sweeter taste and can be served with either jam or syrup.  Then there’s another way that he makes it, “with an Asian twist to it” as he states.  This way, he doesn’t add cheese, but does add the vegetables of his choosing.  Instead of adding butter, he adds soy sauce, and scallions as he lets the dish cook in the pan.

Philip first learned this recipe on Passover when he was in his early twenties.  His mother was a terrific cook, and had all sorts of recipes for special dishes on Jewish holidays.  She showed him “Matzah Brie” when he was hungry and looking for something to eat one Passover.  She also described, in detail, the different ways that the dish could be cooked and prepared, and as a result, he was able to devise the three different ways of making it.  This dish is a great example of folklore because while there are published recipes for “Matzah Brie,” on the website “My Jewish Learning” for example, no one knows where the original recipe came from.  Furthermore, it has certainly evolved as it has been passed down from generation to generation, Philip recalls that his mother learned it from her mother, and this pattern likely continued as mothers and fathers passed down the recipe to their children on Passover.  As years have gone by, the recipe has certainly evolved and improved in different ways to the liking of those who cook and eat it.

Mason, Lee.  “Matzah Brie” My Jewish 2005