Pesach: Defining Unleavened bread
Something that occurred to me and is relevant to the season:
Matzah is Passover flour and water, baked into hard, flat sheets.
Why couldn't a tortilla made with Passover flour and water and baked (under a learned Rabbi's supervision, of course)into a soft flat sheet qualify as kosher l'pesach?
In the same vein, why not a corn tortilla, made simply from ground corn and water?
Has no one ever thought of it or is there some specific halacha that says that Passover flour can only be used to make hard matza, and all other uses can only be derivative of that matzah?
Follow-up: Does matzah by definition need to be completely flat? I was thinking of how nice it would be to have a "cone" of matzah to hold chicken salad, for example.
There is soft matzoh as well. We scored some from a Sephardic rabbi in NYC this year - it's really good. It reminds me of Indian nan bread, although it's much more dense.
The flour used for matzah has to remain free of moisture until water is added for kneading and then there is a time stricture some 18 minutes, I believe from addition of water until completion of baking.
In the beit hamikdash all the menakhot burnt on the altar had no chametz (the loaves used for Shavuot to lift the special offering were chametz, made with se'or which seems to be sourdough starter, but no part of these was burnt). They were soft because they all had oil and water added when kneading. One min'ha was boiled and then baked, like a bagel. some were baked like wafers on forms (like a pappadum) some were thick. Most were made of white flour (solet) although two were made of kemakh - whole grain flour.
Matzah that's used at the seder is Lehem Oni, Lakhma 'Ania, bread of affliction and as such has no salt and no oil. Ashkenazi practice is to bake it hard so there is no suspicion of moisture and secondary fermentations. Many people have the custom of avoiding soaking the matzah during the first seven days of the holiday, so no matzah balls or matzah brei in their tradition. The eighth day is less 'hamur, so people will eat at each other's homes more readily.
For matzah to be such, it has to be made at the very least from one of the five types of grain which are subject to being hametz - rye, wheat, spelt, oats, and barley. Wheat is always preferred (as bread is preffered to cakes, wheaten to other grains, grains to fruits, (in order olives, dates, grapes figs and pomegranates) when making a brakhah to start a meal. So wheat is preferred for matzah. And material from eretz yisrael is preferred to that from the tfutsot.
So corrections are welcome. For sfaradim, corn is allowed, if you're sure it is 100% corn, produced in circumstances with no suspicion.
For everyone, if you can get arrowroot flour or chestnut flour and you're sure there is NO chance or your Rav is sure there is no chance of it being hametz, consider making a castagnaccio of chestnut flour or arrowroot flour pancakes. Or you can make potato starch noodles which I've had in soup (when homemade) and they're excellent.
Or just wait the week.