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Let me start off by saying that cooking has never been my forte. Growing up, my mother wouldn't even let my brother and me into the kitchen. That was great as a kid, with all these wonderful meals magically appearing and us having virtually no idea how they came into being. But as an adult it has left me with certain limitations.
Before my wife Jody and I were married, I ate out a lot. Between felafel and burgers and the occasional salad, I probably spent more on food than rent. There was a brief period where I bought a wok and actually got pretty good with stir-frying veggies.
I don't know where that wok is now, though. And in any case, it's not kosher for Pessah. Which leads us to the dilemma of the day.
Last year, during the intermediate days of Pessah when matza is still high on the food chain, Jody had to go out and the kids hadn't eaten dinner yet. Not a good combination.
No sooner had Jody walked out the door when 15-year-old Amir asked "What's for dinner?"
"I'm hungry!" 13-year-old Merav demanded, not volunteering to make anything herself.
Nine-year-old Aviv was practically asleep on the couch, but he managed a brief whimper to indicate that he concurred.
Usually during Pessah, we feast on a whole lot of matza: chicken salad on matza, matza with tuna, matza with butter and salt, matza bagels and matza mousse for dessert.
"Let's check what we've got," I suggested, putting on an expression of "exaggerated enthusiasm" as I had once learned in a Dale Carnegie class.
We had eaten a bit too well at the Seder, so there were no serious leftovers. The cupboard wasn't exactly bare, but it wasn't overflowing either.
All that we had on hand were a dozen eggs, three squares of butter and the aforementioned matza.
"Matza brei!" I declared with all the passion of a yet-to-be-televised naked chef.
"Do you even know how to make matza brei?" Merav asked, with more than a touch of cynicism in her voice.
"No," I responded, "but how hard can it be? It's just eggs and matza, right?"
I cracked five eggs into a bowl, whisked them together, poured them into a frying pan and then crumbled a single piece of matza into the mix.
"Abba, aren't you supposed to use, like, five pieces of matza?" Merav commented.
"And I think you're supposed to soak the matza before you put it in the pan," Amir instructed with alarm.
"It will be fine," I shot back. "Don't worry."
"Matza brei is supposed to be like French toast," Merav added.
"This isn't matza brei as you know it," I said, thinking on my feet. "It's a... a... matzomelette.
"Yes," I continued, "it's the perfect food for a country constantly suffering from a matzav" (that ubiquitous Hebrew term for "the situation"). "When friends call from the States and ask how the matzav is, we can say - it's just fine, because we're having matzomelettes."
My attempt at lightheartedness was met by heavy-handed silence. I looked down from my reverie. The matzomelette was starting to stick to the pan. The moment of truth was at hand. The kids eyed the concoction suspiciously. I still hadn't gained their trust. As I spatula'd it onto their plates, no one uttered the customary "he got more!" or "she got more!" They took a bite.
"Not bad," declared Amir.
"Pretty tasty," said Merav.
"Got any ketchup?" asked Aviv, who had pulled himself off the couch to participate in this unique experiment of abba cooking.
I had done it! Later that evening, when Jody came home, I told her the story.
"Matzomelettes instead of matza brei, huh? See, I knew you could handle the kids. But I've got an even better idea."
And then with a wink she said: "Let's go upstairs. I bet we can cook up a little matza Brian of our own."
The writer has a blog at www.ThisNormalLife.com