Matzo is bread made from flour of members of the wheat and barley families mixed with water and then, to avoid engendering hametz, baked within 18 minutes of mixing. Historically, it was customary for each household to bake their own matzos. The result would be virtually unrecognizable to modern American Jews, it was a relatively soft, thin round loaf akin to a firm (pocket-less) pita bread.
In Israel by late January, about halfway through the rainy season, the majority of the year’s precipitation has fallen. The sap in the trees begins to flow and the branches show the initial signs of budding. It’s at this time that Jews celebrate Tu B’Shvat (this Thursday and Friday) — known as the New Year for the tree. Since Tu B’Shvat is a minor holiday, few specific dishes were created for its celebration, but rather the practice emerged of serving dishes that highlight the flavors of local fresh fruit and nuts, which each Jewish community adapted to what was available to them.