June 21, 2024
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A cholent’s viscosity can say plenty about the cholent’s maker. Though often overlooked or underappreciated, cholent viscosity can actually be a proverbial window into the soul of its creator. It is unclear whether cholent viscosity is nature, nurture or both but, regardless of the cause, its effect can be substantial and long-lasting.

Cholent viscosity arguably can be divided into the following three main categories:

1. Soup-er Duper

This type of cholent has the lowest viscosity and thus can be consumed only with a spoon, straw or funnel. However, using a straw or funnel is not a good idea because a large, rapid-fire dose of piping hot cholent is a sure-fire way of turning your throat into a nuclear fallout wasteland. A good rule of thumb (or throat) is to never funnel cholent, never dance the hora on a bed of nails and never agree to a blind wedding. (Blind dates are fine.)

What type of a person would make a soupy cholent? If the cholent is loose, does that mean the creator has loose morals, has a screw loose or is loose as a goose? If the cholent is runny, does that mean the maker loves to eat and run or is running from the law?

More likely, however, a loose and runny cholent means that the maker has a go-with-the-flow attitude and laid back personality that would be conducive to a bohemian lifestyle. In fact, there arguably is a connection between cholent and Bohemianism. In the early 1900’s, the press dubbed a certain U.S. world traveler, adventuress and heiress the “Queen of Bohemia.” Her name was Aimee Crocker and, fittingly, her last name includes the word “crock,” which is synonymous with cholent because cholent often is made in a “crock”-pot. The crock-pot itself owes its success to cholent because its inventor, Irving Naxon (born Irving Nachumsohn), was inspired by his Lithuanian family’s cholent-making roots. Understandably, you might think that the connections among Aimee Crocker, the crock-pot and cholent are all nonsense and complete… crock, but let’s just say that loose cholent calls for loose interpretations.

2. Stew Stewards

Some would argue that a soupy cholent necessarily means that the maker does not really understand the cholent concept. Such high-viscosity purists staunchly adhere to the notion that cholent is meant to be a stew, not a soup. Incidentally, the same purists likely would argue that (i) bagels must be boiled, not baked, (ii) gefilte fish must be served with a seemingly extraneous slice of carrot, not by itself and (iii) kishke must be heart-clogging, not vegetarian.

A truly stew-like cholent should strike the perfect balance between solid and liquid, hovering between them in a semi-solid state. That might sound difficult to achieve but there are other instances in life that require finding a happy place between two mutually-exclusive extremes like solid and liquid. For example, sometimes we must find a happy mid-point between (i) work and family, (ii) socializing and alone time and (iii) talking during davening and not talking during davening.

When a person creates cholent with stew-like viscosity, that person is telling the world that balance is beautiful and compromise is critical. Such a person tends to eschew an all-or-nothing approach in favor of bridge-building and peace-making. A stew-y cholent screams understanding and compassion. It acknowledges that while people come in all shapes and sizes, we can all peacefully coexist in a proverbial melting pot or, as it were, crock-pot.

3. Hunky Chunky

Some people fervently believe that cholent is best served in a solid state. They refuse to dole out cholent in bowls. They simply scoop the cholent out of the crock-pot, plop it on a plate and hand you a fork. If you ask for a spoon, you might get slapped.

What is the allure of chunky cholent? What does it say about its makers? Are they dangerous extremists who do not have a conciliatory bone in their bodies? Are they overly rigid and pertinacious fanatics who are as inflexible as their cholent? Are they braggadocious bullies who enjoy flaunting the density of their cholent achievements for purposes of intimidation?

The truth is, those who prefer a more solid-like cholent tend to have a solid moral foundation. They know that the strength of their convictions, like the strength of their cholent, will allow them to effectively deal with life’s trials and tribulations. To them, a solid cholent leads to a solid existence, one that cannot be broken or bent by outside forces, not even by narishkeit and bubbe-meise.

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Based on the foregoing, it would appear that no matter the state of your cholent’s viscosity, it just might reflect your most savory qualities.

Final thought: If your cholent can be served in a squirt gun, it’s probably not thick enough.

By Jonathan Kranz

 

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