Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Convert Confessions: I Don't Like Cholent

I was born a bad Southerner. I didn't like pinto beans or fried chicken or the 4 million other kinds of Southern foods.

Now I'm a bad Jew. I don't like cholent. From what I can tell, its purpose isn't to be good. Its purpose is to be hot food on days we can't prepare proper food. And it gets that job done well.

I've had a couple of bowls of cholent that were decent, but I'm always skeptical of the cholent crockpot. Yet, since I'm not very smart, I keep trying it, thinking that "this time will be different." It usually isn't, but luckily I have two trusted cholent chefs in my life.

What's my point? Thanks to modern technology, it's not necessary to eat cholent. We have so many other options, but we cling to cholent because it's tradition and because making "the best" cholent is some true bragging rights.

Maybe we can come to a compromise - I made an awesome Mexican cholent!

And while we're at it, I hate gefilte fish. Keep that nasty stuff away from me!


  1. Another reason people make cholent is the cost -- for a large crowd, cholent is just stew beef, potatoes, beans, and barley really.

    I, like all other people in the world, think I make great cholent. I also think the one I made on simchas torah was just "okay", because it got watered down and had no kishka, which really makes cholent awesome. If plain ol ashkenazi cholent is boring, maybe try sefardi dafina? I had it at a friend's house made with lamb and it was killer!!

  2. Who did you think was one of my two good cholent chefs??

  3. I agree with you on cholent - I don't like the stuff at all. Its heavy and every bowl I've had has been bland. It doesn't feel like healthy eating, either. Now Irish stew is something to die for - I'll miss granny's - so I will have my own Irish stew as a cholent-alternative any week.

    Couldn't disagree more on gefilte fish. I love seafood, and I'd have it every day if I wasn't worried about mercury poisoning. I happened to spend most of my childhood in a small, seaside town famous all over Europe - for shellfish. So gefilte fish has to be one of my Jewish favorites. Oily herring I find somewhat sickening, however, - and all my Jewish friends agree! Here in the UK, United Synagogue affiliated shuls traditionally have fishballs at kiddush which are really nice.

  4. We don't like it much, either. Come to Santa Fe. We eat green chile stew on Shabbat. ;-)

  5. I've been in Israel for a few months now and haven't had a decent bowl yet. My Rabbi back home in Orlando makes the BEST cholent though, has a nice kick to it :)

    And have you ever had fried gefilte fish? It's the only kind I like :P

  6. I wish I had found a blog like yours when I was converting a few years ago! Its a rough road, but so worth it! Btw, I'm chatting with you now at the #frumchat Twitterparty!

  7. Thanks, Raquel! I wanted to see something like this too, and there wasn't anything! So here I am!

    I'm glad to hear some encouraging words! And let me know on Twitter who you are!

  8. I'm sorry to rain on your parade, but it doesn't get better. Cholent is, for European Jews, a given. And I do love some Ashkenazi dishes. (I have a weakness for hering.) Fortunately, the Jewish family is very diverse and there are other food traditions to choose from. (I have German sephardic ancestry, so I may look European, buy my taste buds have still not adapted to accept cholent with a smile.

    You need to try Adafina. It is the Moroccan version of a Shabbat stew and is a vast improvement. I suggest you pick up a couple of cookbooks since food is such an important part of the Jewish experience. Try The Book of New Israeli Food by Janna Gur, which has some amazing recipes including some sephardic/mizrahi cholent substitutes. You could also pick up The Scent of Orange Blossoms by Kitty Morse which has an unbeatable Adafina recipe. If you are feeling particularly saucy and want the whole schmeer, pick up a copy of Aromas of Aleppo which focuses on the Jewish cuisine from Aleppo in Syria. I am looking to make a few videos in the future to share a few good Shabbat recipes; I'll let you know! (And of course, others should share as well.)