Why is your matza different from all other matza?

Jewish group holding contest to determine who can come up with the most creative use of matza.

making matza 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
making matza 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
WASHINGTON – What makes your matza different from all other matza? That’s something the newly founded Jewish Food Experience wants to find out.
The group, which was launched this month in Washington to foster Jewish identity and community through food, is holding a contest to determine who can come up with the most creative use of matza.
There are two types of entries being solicited by the March 29 deadline – an inventive recipe using matza (which doesn’t have to be kosher for Passover) or a photo of matza being used in an unusual way, for example as an art object or household item.
“No matter how much matza you buy, there’s always a box left over,” joked Susan Barocas, the Jewish Food Experience’s project director, who said the contest was a good way to use up the extra box.
The organization, funded by the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, is hoping that the funky idea, as well as the $200 in wine, food and autographed cookbooks that winners receive, will be the first of many endeavors that cause members of the Jewish community to bond over their collective gustatory heritage.
“Food is something that over the years has connected people,” Barocas noted. “The Jewish Food Experience is bringing Jews from all ages, all walks of life [together] around food to build community, Jewish identity and connections to Jewish culture and life.”
The group, whose advisory council includes renowned Jewish cookbook authors Joan Nathan and Todd Gray, has created a website posting local Jewish-themed dining events, recipes for various holidays, articles about food-related issues and, of course, the details for the matza contest.
The group launched the project on Tuesday at Gray’s Washington eatery Equinox, one of the city’s top restaurants, complete with a demonstration by Gray himself of modern takes on Passover favorites.
He noted that all of his concocotions are made according to the season and which items can be obtained at a given time of year.
He also encouraged those watching his complex cooking – which included grating beets, tossing in some Quantro and tying up smoked salmon in a cheesecloth to produce pink sheets of fish perfectly edged with a maroon lining – that anyone could be successful “if you follow the recipe very carefully.”
Barocas said that the focus of Jewish Food Experience is very local, because that’s what works best given the emphasis on cooking and eating together and serving as a resource for residents interested in finding out more about Jewish cuisine in the Washington area.
But those involved hope it will become a national model for Jewish communities to form their own similar groups based on what the Jewish Food Experience has pioneered.
And Barocas did point to one global message the organization hopes to deliver: “Jewish food isn’t just bagels and lox.”