On Passover at my house, hours after the four questions have been asked and answered, there is a fifth question. “What night can we have matzah pizza?”
Our family is Reform, and we are not kosher. But the kids attend religious school and they do want to keep Passover in some way. They want to be somewhat observant of the holiday and to feel connected to their Jewish heritage.
For my kids, matzah pizza is a light at the end of the dark, bread-free tunnel. Eight days without their normal carbohydrate intake seems a bit torturous. Creatures of habit, each morning they miss their cereal and waffles. For lunch, they crave their usual sandwiches, and by dinnertime they are itching for pasta.
The first two days of the holiday are not a problem. We attend seders at night where they are thrilled to eat turkey and their Aunt Susan’s matzah ball soup. During the day, they will eat eggs, matzah brei, and good old matzah with cream cheese. I can get a third day in without complaint if I have taken home enough leftovers.
But by day four, they want me order matzah pizza from either Master Pizza in Livingston or Gian Marco in Millburn (this year, La Strada in Millburn will also serve matzah pizza). Matzah pizza is like regular pizza but just a touch crunchier. We have found you have to eat it fairly quickly because the crust tends to get chewy and hard if you wait too long. I am embarrassed to say some years, we have ordered it three or four times during the holiday week. It’s yummy and we look forward to it as a special treat we can eat without feeling guilty that we are “breaking” Passover.
That is until last year.
For Christian children, the disappointment comes when they find out there is no Santa Claus or Easter Bunny. For my Jewish children, disappointment came when they saw the sign in the window of Gian Marco that said, “Matzah Pizza is not Kosher for Passover.”
What? Say it isn’t true! What’s next? Finding out Bloomingdales’ legendary low fat frozen yogurt is full of fat? How can matzah pizza not be kosher for Passover?!
I spoke to Mike S. at Gian Marco and he explained, “The dough is a combination of matzah meal and regular flour that has not been certified ‘kosher for Passover.’ The matzah meal by itself could not be shaped into a pizza crust or hold up with the cheese and sauce.“ The same is true at Master Pizza, where general manager Armando T. said, “We don’t use yeast in the matzah pizza, but we cannot say it is kosher.” Also, both restaurants are not under the supervision of a rabbi or certified kosher during the year.
For anyone who decides to abstain from ordering matzah pizza due to its lack of kosher-ness, you can always try making it at home with this recipe.
As for our family, we will be ordering matzah pizza throughout the holiday. On many nights of the year, when mom is too tired to cook, we order pizza. So why are Passover nights different? Because only on Passover does our family eat matzah pizza. It is our tradition, and even if it is “cheating,” it still makes us feel like we are celebrating together.