The most emo­tive of dishes

The Jewish Chronicle - - LIFE -

IT’S COLD out­side, so I’ve been holed up in my kitchen per­fect­ing my cholent. I have to con­fess to grow­ing up in a cholent-free fam­ily, but for many it’s an ex­tremely evoca­tive dish. So many peo­ple re­mem­ber the mouth-wa­ter­ing aro­mas of the rich meat and bean-filled stew curl­ing around the Shab­bat home. My sis­ter-in-law (based in Israel) was amused by her hus­band’s fam­ily who shlep a cholent with them ev­ery Shab­bat, of­ten on sear­ingly hot days. My fa­ther-in-law re­mem­bers how there al­ways seemed a pot of cholent bub­bling away on the stove dur­ing his for­ma­tive years.

Food blog­ger Fa­bi­enne Vin­erLuz­zato re­calls her fam­ily eat­ing tfina — the Tu­nisian ver­sion — each Shab­bat. “There were of­ten 20 peo­ple at our ta­ble. As the youngest of 7 chil­dren we were al­ready 9 and then my aunts and un­cles would join us. We started eat­ing of­ten around 1.30pm and fin­ish­ing at 4 or 5pm. First kemia (Tu­nisian tapas) with lots of colour­ful sal­ads, some boulettes — spicy and tasty meat balls wrapped in veg­eta­bles and de­li­cious home­made chal­lah. Af­ter this we weren’t hun­gry, but couldn’t refuse the tra­di­tional Shab­bat lunch dish our mother had pre­pared with so much love. She made enough for 40 even if we were only 20 or 25 peo­ple. Each week we were eat­ing left overs un­til Tues­day... but we couldn’t com­plain, we loved it and we loved her!”

Liz Alpern, co-founder of the Ge­filte­ria web­site is a fan. “It’s one of my favourite sym­bolic dishes of the Ashke­nazi canon. Each fam­ily would put their cholent pot into the town baker’s oven be­fore sun­down on Fri­day and it would slow cook in the dy­ing em­bers overnight un­til re­trieved on Satur­day for Shab­bat lunch. The cholent tra­di­tion sym­bol­ises com­mu­nity to me, and I love imag­in­ing my­self tak­ing part in that rit­ual. In the win­ter it’s one of fat and give you some­thing to bite into and re­fresh the palate. Try:

Pick­led red cab­bage; my go-to dishes, Shab­bat or not.”

It may not be fash­ion­able, but it’s an au­then­tic heimishe del­i­cacy and fits to­day’s trend for slow cook­ing. It also plays the econ­omy and sus­tain­abil­ity card — us­ing the cheaper meat cuts and sea­sonal root veg.

It’s also one of the few true Jewish foods. A recipe evolved to re­flect our re­li­gious prac­tice, in­stead of bor­rowed, mag­pie-like from the cui­sine of which­ever cul­ture we were camp­ing in. Cosy up with one this Shab­bat. VP.

Quick pick­led beets – slice them fine with a potato peeler and pick in­ter­est­ingly coloured candy or golden beets;

Gherkins — new green would work well, with plenty of dill; or

Pick­led radishes or baby bal­samic onions.

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