As a Women’s Studies major, I got to take some pretty wacky classes in my tenure at GW. Some of the gems included “Women and Sexuality” (women are oppressed in the bedroom as well as the boardroom), “The Superhero in Film”, (“Supergirl” and “Tank Girl” were shown–this somehow counted towards my minimum credit allotment– and I actually understand “Crises on Infinite Earth”), and “Anthropology of Gender” (women have had the shit end of the stick throughout time and in varying cultures). I had some really great classes and learned a ton, but I would be lying if I didn’t admit some of my course work was total nonsense that really has no bearing on my life now. This most valuable lesson I learned from these throw-away classes was I can bluff my way through almost anything. Come to think of it, that has served me well…
One of the more interesting classes, “Women in Judaism”, proved the most maddening. I convinced an unsuspecting friend to take the course with me, and we sat in the back the whole semester, the only goys in the class. The rest of the women (there were never really many men in my classes…shocking, I know) in the class were Jewish and a select few spent the whole semester tearing each other apart. The Conservative Jews hated the “JAPs” and the Reform girls loved attacking what they perceived as the backwards practices of their Orthodox counterparts. It was like these girls were the Sharks and Jets of Judaism. That semester showed me that women will turn on each other and rip each other to shreds, no matter how much they have in common. I did leave that class knowing the difference between a mitzvah, a mikvah and a messhuganah, so all was not lost.
I also know matzo. Now, I will never, ever say my matzo ball soup is as good as your Jewish mother’s. A few college credits and kissing a few Jewish boys does not a chosen person make. But for a Shiksa, it is not half bad. Now, I have come to learn this is a delicacy that is deeply person; some people like theirs with chicken, some need onions, KassyK told me she cannot eat hers without cauliflower. This soup keeps it simple; just some carrots and a kiss of dill in the broth, along with, of course, the pillowy matzo balls. Reading plenty of recipes lead me to believe there is no better way to make this than with seltzer: they are light and magnificent. (Of course you may like them heavy and leaden…I cannot please all of you.)
Matzo Ball Soup
Derived from many sources
1/2 cup matzo meal
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons or seltzer
2 to 3 quarts prepared chicken stock
2 carrots, thinly sliced (I chopped a handful of baby carrots)
A few sprigs of dill
Mix all matzo ball ingredients in a bowl. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Bring 1 1/2 quarts of well-salted water to a brisk boil in a medium sized pot.
Reduce the flame. Run your hands under water so they are thoroughly wet. Form matzo balls by dropping spoonfuls of matzo ball batter approximately 1-inch in diameter into the palm of your wet hands and rolling them loosely into balls. Drop them into the simmering salt water one at a time. Cover the pot and cook them for 30 to 40 minutes.
About ten minutes before the matzo balls are ready, bring prepared chicken stock to a simmer with the sliced carrot in it. Ladle some soup and a couple matzo balls into each bolw and top with a couple snips of dill. Eat immediately.