On our last trip to Paris we planned to spend an evening catching up with our friend Jane. An artist and writer, she had gone to Paris to live and work a dozen years earlier.
Jane met us in the elegant dining room of our hotel and we were having drinks when my cell phone rang.
“Hello, this is Rabbi Zeller replying to your message.”, said an unfamiliar voice. “I’m sorry I didn’t call back sooner, but the factory was closed for Passover. How can I help you?”
Then I realized this was the rabbi at the Streits matzo company whose voicemail I had gotten two weeks earlier in New York when I had called customer service with a complaint.
And so with my husband, my friend Jane, and several Parisians at nearby tables within earshot, I went on to air my gripe transatlantically.
“First,” I said to set the stage, “I want you to know that my mother bought only Streits matzo, my father especially loved your Moon Strips, and so to this day I buy only Streits.”
“And,” I continued, “since I’ve been making the family Seder, I’ve used Streits mix to make light, fluffy matzo balls that practically float in the soup. But this year I had a catastrophe!”
“What happened?”, asked the rabbi, possibly fearing the worst.
“Our cousin Samantha was coming to Seder,” I said, “and I knew she was gluten sensitive, so I was glad to find Streits gluten-free matzo ball mix in the supermarket.
Happily I bought a box, and when I was ready to cook I added the eggs and oil to the mix and let it stand for 15 minutes. Then I rolled walnut-size balls between my wet palms and dropped them into boiling water. But to my horror rather than floating, they all dispersed leaving me with a pot of cloudy water. And so at Seder my cousin Samantha had no matzo balls for her soup.”
“I can’t image what could have gone wrong! I’m gluten-sensitive myself, and when my wife uses that mix her matzo balls come out perfectly.”, the rabbi said. “I’m so sorry for your trouble. Please give me your address and I’ll send you some Streits coupons.”
And so it was over cocktails in an elegant Parisian dining room that I had an epiphany – there are some mysteries in this world that even the wisest of rabbis can’t solve.
Dana Susan Lehrman
I have a story to tell you. My d-i-l is gluten sensitive so years ago when I visited on Passover, I brought gluten free matzoh to make matzo brie…it turned into a slimy mess!
Joanie, Tis a mystery indeed, but good for you for trying!
Gluten free is not problem free especially in Paris. Fun post!
Love this! One of the best documentaries Lenny and I saw with our COVID-19 binging was about the Streits matzo factory on the Lower Eastside but don’t believe they mentioned gluten-free matzo!
Will try to catch that show Sara!
Did I hear that Streits recently moved from Rivington Street to Jersey?
I knew right away it was your fault
Of course you did Artie!
Wonderful- so, wisdom may not conquer all, but coupons help. Love it.
Spoken like a smart shopper Ellen!
Well, he did deal nicely with your complaint.
Yep Judy, coupons are always nice!
Love this story, Dana! Can’t wait till we can be together and try it again ?
Yes cup, hope we can be together well before next year’s Seder when maybe you’ll get your matzo balls after all!
Stay safe! ❤️
Nice. Did you know that Streits is the only original matzo company that is made in the US?
Thanx Midge, didn’t know that but think I heard Streits moved from Rivington Street on the LES to Jersey!
Hilarious, love you!
Thanx Doreen, stay safe up there! ❤️
So why does this story play out in Paris? Elementary: “Coupon” is a French word, in Paris with the nuance (also French), “to get free Matzoh”!
How do you say OY in French?
What I loved best about this hilarious story is the juxtaposition of the two stories, the two themes, the two settings: the very Jewish New Yorky conversation with Streits about of all things, matzoh balls vs the uber sophisticated, Parisian setting over drinks with an artist. . . . priceless! One of your best!
Thanx Lynn, yes it did feel like two worlds colliding, and so very funny!
One can’t live in New York without eating matzo! Coming from a Italian family where every holiday is celebrated with lots of food – often at my parent’s large house in New Jersey – I remember when I was going to NYU and lived in the Village – the first girl in my family to have my own apartment – and was going home for a family dinner.
I asked at the local deli what I could bring. He assumed I was Jewish and suggested I bring matzo and fruit.
I did and everyone loved the matzo – we spread it with peanut butter and jam – and I still always have matzo on my shopping list!
Great New York story Ang, and indeed everything is good on matzo, I love it with butter!
I love this story! So funny and so true about how no matter where we are, some other part of our life will come sneaking in, to bring us back to the real world. Reminds me, sadly, of the 2 week art workshop in Provence that I missed in June due to covid. Maybe next year, vaccine-willing!
Thanx Shel, may you get to Provence next year! Hope you’ve been painting lots during lockdown!