It’s Foodie Friday and this is the last food-related post before the start of Passover.
In honor of that, I thought I’d raise one of the most important questions this time of year brings: sinkers or floaters? I’m talking about matzo balls, of course, and the question of whether they should float in the soup like little clouds or sink to the bottom like rocks is a matter of serious debate around the Seder table. As it turns out, the debate contains some instructive business thinking as well.
I’ll preface what I am about to say with an acknowledgment that I am not a neutral party. I have some definite thoughts about matzo balls. I should also add that here in the New York area, many non-Jews eat a lot of matzo ball soup year round so the debate isn’t limited to Passover tables.
The basic recipe for matzo balls is simple. Matzoh meal, eggs, fat of some sort, and liquid. That’s where agreement stops. The primary aspects of the discussion involve the following (almost Talmudic) questions:
- Should the kneidlach (Yiddish for matzo balls) sink or float in the soup?
- Should they contain schmaltz (chicken fat) or margarine or oil?
- Should seltzer be used to “leaven” them?
- Should the egg whites be separated and whipped to add lightness?
- Should they be boiled in salted water or in the soup broth?
- Should they be the size of golf balls or tennis balls?
There are some minor issues including the use of parsley and other seasoning but the above are the main elements. Every family has their own answers and even within a family there is disagreement, especially if there are two grandmothers involved. Which brings us to the business point.
There are few things more simple and yet as complex as these little dumplings. The risk one runs when just assuming they can make them without careful thought to each of the above is that the debate rears its ugly head at the table and a familial brouhaha ensues. The same problem happens in business. We often look at seemingly simple issues without a fully thinking through the many complex underlying issues that can affect how well the final product fares. That can be a huge mistake and it’s always worth a few minutes thinking through those issues before jumping into a problem.
Floaters with a nice “chew”, by the way. Yours?