Cholent crawling in Bnei Brak

In search of authentic Ashkenazi cuisine.

By RACHEL MYERSON
March 16, 2016 21:47
Ashkenazi cuisine

Moti’s delicacies include vegetarian, meat and hot-dog versions, and a mysterious cholent-potato kugel hybrid. (photo credit: RACHEL MYERSON)

 
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Here in Tel Aviv, people love to label themselves “foodies” and compete over their latest meals. Though traditional Sephardi cuisine has been made fashionable and modern by chefs such as Meir Adoni, Ashkenazi cuisine has been left by the culinary wayside. Yet I was hearing rumors of an almost unexplored, thriving food scene from my father-in-law, of all people. Yes, a cheap, buzzing and regional food culture taking place on the streets of Bnei Brak every Thursday night, with one dish center stage: cholent.

Though many know this slow-cooked stew as hamin, this version is most definitely the Eastern European, shtetl version. Enticed by the promise of tastes of home and the alternativeness of it all, I set about organizing a field trip. Perhaps unsurprisingly, my Tel Aviv friends were unenthused about joining me. In truth, I managed to recruit only my husband (who didn’t really have a choice) and a religious friend, knowledgeable about the cholent scene.

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