It’s no Exodus 2.0, but NPR has a very cool story about the making of matzo pie, and it ran online under an even better headline. Warning: It will make you rather hungry.
While matzo — a cracker-like unleavened bread — harkens back to a time of slavery and fleeing without time for loaves to fully rise, it has come a long way from hardship fare. Matzo is now coated with crunchy caramel, or dipped in chocolate, or dredged in nuts (or, rapturously, sometimes all three at once). Ground into meal, it’s mixed with oil or schmaltz (chicken fat) and shaped into feather-light matzo balls (or, depending on your tastes and the kitchen skills of your family matriarch, somewhat denser, more-toothsome-yet-equally-beloved “sinkers”). And, if you’re lucky enough to come from a Sephardic background, it’s formed into minas.
Minas, also known as meginas or mehinas, are layered matzo pies, found in Jewish cuisine from Egypt to Turkey to the Isle of Rhodes. Sheets of stiff matzo crackers are softened with water until pliable, then layered with savory fillings and baked, yielding something akin to a Passover-friendly, Ottoman-inflected take on lasagna.
Mina fillings run the gamut, from herb-flecked lamb pies to meltingly soft stewed eggplant, many of them similar to the savory turnovers (bourekas, samboussek, etc.) found throughout the Sephardic world.
Matzo is certainly no longer a bread of affliction.