A mission for matzo in the Chiang Mai

A hankering for a childhood favourite and wave of nostalgia washes over Rebecca Ryan sending her on a Chiang Mai hunt for matzo.

By | Thu 2 Apr 2015

My Jewish ancestors searched 40 days and 40 nights centuries ago and today I found myself on a similar hunt. This time not in search of the land of milk and honey but instead in search of matzo.

With the first night of Passover quickly approaching, April 3rd, memories from my childhood came flooding back: looking for the afikomen (a hidden piece of matzo), eating sweet charoset (a fruit and nut mix), and stealing sips of Manischewitz (a kosher wine) when my parents turned their backs.

This wave of nostalgia prompted a craving for matzo, an unleavened, kosher bread for Passover that can be eaten with butter, jam, eggs, and for those who need that American taste to every meal, pizza sauce. But hey, you name it, it is probably good on matzo. With my taste buds geared up I set out on a city-wide search for matzo here in Chiang Mai.

My first stop was Tops Supermarket. I walked the aisles filled with cuisine from around the globe but there was no matzo to be found. At the front desk I asked if they had any kosher foods. The attendant handed me a pen and paper where I wrote down ‘kosher’ and ‘matzo’. This resulted in a minute of flipping through an English dictionary and then a call on the loudspeaker for assistance. Now with 6 attendants we moved on to a Google search. I was taken down the cracker aisle and a few confused fingers pointed to some rice crackers. With a kosher “mai bpen rai” I assured them that this was exactly what I was looking for and parted ways with some baht. But alas, this is not matzo.

I also checked out with some gold chocolate coins that resembled gelt in hand and ventured on.

Optimistically, I entered Rimping Supermarket but as I walked around my hopes diminished. No matzo. I decided supermarkets were not the answer and headed over to Sababa Israeli Restaurant.

The owner, Ezra, greeted me with a bottle of cold water and a big smile. I ordered a dish of hummus and falafel and inquired about matzo. He replied that he did not have any yet but will be buying some later in the day. With this news my hope of matzo returned and I asked him where. He replied, “The chabad house of course!”

After finishing my food, I walked down the street where I was greeted by a cabinet filled with matzo and Passover friendly food. With my kosher treats sealed into a small plastic bag, I felt my mission was complete.

So if you also have a hankering for matzo or are in need of some seder supplies (and don’t want to traverse the city like I did today…in this heat!) head over to the Chabad house on Chang Klan Road next to the Shangri-La Hotel. Happy Passover!