Spring is here and a young or old Jew's fancy turns to matzo balls. Tonight marks the first night of Passover, the 8-day observance celebrating the exodus of the Jews from slavery in Egypt thousands of years ago during the reign of the Pharaoh Ramses II. Matzo ball soup is bound to be on the menu of many a Passover seder, along with Jewish culinary exotica such as carrot tzimmes and gefilte fish. But creating an ideal bowl of matzo ball soup -- deceptively simple yet flavorful and profound -- is truly an art that not every Jewish mother who can wield a whisk has mastered. The ultimate matzo ball soup doesn't require chicken stock made from a freshly killed bird or utterly extraneous organic vegetables crowding the broth. It just needs the perfect matzo ball.
And open to interpretation, the perfect matzo ball has been known to stir as much heated debate as Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. To some the weighty softball-like "sinker," which hugs the bottom of a bowl like a remora sticks to a shark, is the preferred version. For others the light cloud-like "floater," delicately bobbing around the top of the soup, provides the unleavened experience of a lifetime.
We favor the fluffy kind ourselves, but whatever type of matzo ball one enjoys, they all contain common essential ingredients: matzo meal, eggs, schmaltz (rendered chicken fat), salt and pepper, and water. The crucial difference that might yield a pleasantly silky over a disagreeably chewy product? Some separate egg yolks and whites, beating the whites to a froth and carefully folding them into the mix. Others recommend a prolonged period of refrigeration before simmering the balls in broth. Still others claim cooked matzo balls should be frozen in their broth in order to maintain optimum fluffiness. Our not-so-secret secret? Club soda. Substitute it for the water in the recipe and in no time you'll be swimming in brothy bliss. Since it's Passover, polishing off a couple glasses of sickeningly sweet wine might do the trick too. -- By Nina Korman
You're a fat cow who condemns the fast food industry for your plus-sizedness, and now you're suing. It's only fair that you should collect some cash, considering all the damage that's been done to your body, your psyche, and your wallet. But nobody got behind the wheel of your Yugo and directed it toward every drive-through from here to Maine. As the judge who is bound to toss out your frivolous suit will admonish: You have only yourself to blame. If you would have listened to nutritionist-attorney couple Nikki and David Goldbeck long ago, you would be healthy and serene right now instead of obese and litigious. Among the eleven books they have penned, the Goldbecks are best known for their 1970s bestseller The Supermarket Handbook, which encouraged healthful eating and better food labeling. Recently in the wake of supersize eradications and protectionist policies toward fast food eateries, they released Healthy Highways: The Traveler's Guide to Healthy Eating. They'll discuss our food-related nightmares and clue you in about nutritious road grub tonight at 6:30 at Books & Books, 265 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables. Admission is free. Call 305-442-4408. -- By Nina Korman
It's swine vs. swine at the races
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You have until today to check out the Fair (a.k.a. the Youth Fair to old-school Miamians). And if a ride on the Super Himalaya or the Zipper is not enough to get you out there, perhaps a bit of greased lightning (with emphasis on the grease) will do the trick. Jay Phillips, a true-blue Missourian and third-generation pig racer, has a stable full of swine with fleet feet and competitive gumption. What will a pig do for a cookie? Check it out for yourself as such luminaries as Arnold Shwartzenpigger, Tammy Swinette, Snoop Hoggy Hog, and Jean-Claude Van Ham go for the glazed oatmeal treat at the finish line. There are several races starting at noon near the fountain and the big wheel at the Miami-Dade County Fair grounds, 10901 SW 24th St. Admission is $8 for adults; $6 for children. Call 305-223-7060. -- By Juan Carlos Rodriguez
As graffiti walls go, this one is a doozy. Adorning the perimeter wall of the RC Cola Bottling Factory is a mind-warping spray of color and motion which -- if you squint your eyes and travel along it -- can transport you like a great jungle mix gets your booty shaking. Of course the great majority of people who pass it see it as a multihued graffiti wall along I-95 just south of the I-395/112 exit. But if you ride your bicycle or walk alongside you see a storyline, a fusion of light and color that touches on themes of conformity, religion, and psychedelia. Demon-eyed characters spin the viewer into a flotsam of floating eyeballs and bubbles. In short, it's bitching. Go see it. It was done by a collaboration of 15 street artists: Edec, Sar, Kvee, Mek, Freek, Elex, Shie, Sae, Rage, Dash, Marle, View2, Jes, Gwiz, and Smash. The wall can be seen on the corner of NW 6th Avenue and 23rd Street. -- By Juan Carlos Rodriguez