10 things you never knew about our Seder staple
We’ve been eating matzah balls since the 11th century. We picked up the habit in Europe when living in Alsace- Lorraine and Germany. The locals ate knodel — the German term for dumpling”. As our ancestors headed east they took the knodel with them, changing the name to the Yiddish kneidl.
Before commercial, machine-made matzah became available (in the 19th century) bubbe made matzah balls with crumbs from matzah bought from the bakery. Some recipes still use crushed, soaked matzah. We’re split between those preferring light ‘floaters’ and others plumping for more solid ‘bouncers’. Golda Meir’s recipe was said to produce heavy matzah balls. Another route to airy matzah balls is to separate the eggs and stiffly beat the whites before adding them to your mixture. Or just increase your egg to matzah meal ratio. Simmering them for at least 30 minutes in a covered pot also helps.
Lithuanian Jews served theirs stuffed with cinnamon-spiced meat — a Chassidic religious tradition, said to add specialness to Shabbat. In
that knodel were generally made with egg and breadcrumbs but the matzah version, invented for Passover, was so popular it made it to menus throughout the year.