The Grandmatzah Balls
A Bowl of Soup Reveals How My Grandmas Live Deep Inside My Heart and Soul
The past holiday weekend has me thinking a lot about family and tradition. I especially have been feeling my grandmothers. Really, they are in my heart and soul every day. I would not be the woman I am today without them.
My two grandmas made matzah balls very differently. Grandma Rita made them light and fluffy — perfect round lightly salted white balls. They were buoyant in the soup and soft in my mouth. They rested in a clear broth and I always wanted seconds.
Grandma Muriel’s matzah balls were the complete opposite. They were a speckled dark tan color, small, and rock hard in the center. They sunk to the bottom in the bowl of a dark murky broth filled with very large chunks of celery and unpeeled carrots. I remember one Passover seder my uncles joking about using them as golf balls, yelling fore! and actually tossing them across the room. What I mostly remember about that moment, was how Grandma Muriel’s face lit up with the teasing and laughter, as there was nothing she enjoyed more than having her whole family all around her, laughing and enjoying.
Matzah ball soup holds generations of memories and traditions. Both Rita and Muriel’s soups live in the epicenter of my soul, as do their stories and their love of life. But if I am really honest, I always favored the soft fluffy white matzah balls of Grandma Rita. When I started making them myself, I prayed that they came out light and fluffy…and they always have, thank you God and Elijah.
But this year’s matzah balls were different from all other matzah balls.
To get the full flavor of why that is, I need to go back to a few weeks ago when I helped my mom clean out the last of Grandma Muriel’s clothing. From the potential donation bags, I took a few colorful silky scarves and I wore them last week, one after the other, and felt her presence deeply within me. I sent my mom selfies of me in them each day. Grandma Muriel was gorgeous; like an old school movie star, curvy, elegant and always dressed to the nines, with diamonds, furs and a fabulous hat.
Grandma was also a prolific writer. She wrote for personal introspection and in doing so, she memorialized the events in all of our lives. I absolutely inherited this from her. She is here with me, even now, in this very story, as I decide what details to include and not include. Such decisions a woman makes every day. Grandma Muriel left behind books and books of stories. I have been thinking a lot about her lately and the incredible details of her life.
Like Muriel, I cook my chicken soup for two days. That is because the main ingredient in there is LOVE. So much love. As I prepared to transport my love soup to my girlfriend’s Tribeca apartment for a goddess seder, I mixed my matzah ball batter, feeling a little smug that they always come out light and fluffy, my vision of perfect. I rolled them with love, hands all oily as I plopped them in the boiling water, one by one, just like I watched my grandmas do for decades. I could feel something a little different about them, although I couldn’t pinpoint what that was. I hoped for the best.
Hours later, I ladled the soup into beautiful bowls and sat at the seder table with my goddess friends. I told the story of my Grandmas and the matzah balls. I’ve learned so much about my Grandma Muriel since her passing and my friends listened intently to the incredible stories of my Grandma’s life as they slurped and chewed. We were all amazed at the depth and breadth of Woman.
I felt deeply connected to my Grandma Muriel as the dark speckled matzah balls sat at the bottom of the bowl of murky broth with tons of unrecognizable vegetables.
They were lead sinkers and they were spectacular.