There is not a matzoh to be had in Mesa. Well, not quite true. I could have purchased a case, propped up against the old Easter Peeps and Paas egg-coloring kits. And I’m not overly concerned that in Mesa, many people think Passover must be the same time as Easter. The city was founded by Mormons, and their 114,000 foot temple is a major site in the city. About 80 percent of high-school graduates in the Mesa/Chandler area identify themselves as Mormons. To Mormons, Jews are “gentiles,” which always makes me smile. And if you want to talk about persecution and immigration, Mormons can add a big chapter to that book.
But there I was, on the second day of Passover, having been in five grocery stores in Mesa and not turning up a small package of matzoh. There was no other Passover food available, not even a display, not even dusty bottles of gefilte fish on a shelf next to Ramen noodles in the “International Food” section.
What to do? Matzoh is unleavened bread, made in haste, by a people who were not wanted in the area. So it seemed to me that a great stand-in for the bread of affliction would be tortilla. Flour tortillas to be precise. They are made without a leavening agent, and cooked one at a time, made at meal time to be eaten. It was a good match. I purchased a pack of the kind you have to finish yourself.
If you compare the picture, the largest difference seems to be the shape.
When I got home, I wanted to prepare a Passover snack, so I turned the front electric burner on “low” on the electric stove and tossed a tortilla on it. Flipping it over to keep it from sticking to the heating burner, I got a good facsimilie of a hot tortilla. I buttered it, sprinkled agave sugar on it along with cardamom, cinnamon, corriander and, yes, a few grinds of red chiles. Hey, it’s a tortilla. I then rolled it up and enjoyed a wonderful Passover snack, while contemplating all the peoples in the world who are pushed from one geography to another, who choose a better life in a place different than the country of their birth. It seemed a fitting thought for the day.
–Quinn McDonald is a writer and workshop leader who teaches communications, including writing, giving presentations and corporate culture. See her website at QuinnCreative.com