I really like ranking food. So much so that I even held a 16-team tournament to determine the best Jewish food out there on this very blog.
During the food tournament, cholent didn’t do too badly. Getting knocked out by latkes is the quarterfinals in nothing to be ashamed of. So when my brother told me he and my friend Ariel (pictured together with their cholent) would be hosting a cholent cookoff, I told them that I’d be happy to report on what happened.
Where I come from, if you are going to do something like this, you go all out. And I’m happy to report that “Cholent Cookoff 2009” was a serious event. With five different teams participating and four judges to determine the winner, the night was intense.
Yes, there were five whole crock pots of cholent to consume. And all were unique. But who would win? Would it be “The Chunt,” whose use of ground beef made the cholent, as one judge declared, “taste like butta?” Or would it be “The Inkishkables” who relied on copious amounts of kishka to win over the judges?
Or would it be “My Daddy’s Cholent,” whose use of curry made for a very unique end result? Would “My Sweet 16” named after its 16 ingredients be too complex for the judges? Or, finally, would “Quality Control,” using classic flavors, reign supreme?
As the judges (above) conferred, it became apparent that some cholents were worse than advertised. The Inkishkables did everything in their power to make the judges not vote for them. One judge questioned whether it was a vegetarian cholent (it was not), while another thought it was mass-produced (it was not). Better luck next year girls!
Overall, there was a consensus. “The Sweet Sixteen” was the winner with an overall rating of 8.5/10 from the judges. With a great ratio of kishka, to potatoes, to sweet potatoes, the judges gave it a slight edge over “The Chunt.”
Will 2010 bring better luck to the losers? Will Team Zevriel, makers of “The Sweet 16” be able to repeat or will they implode like the 2004 Lakers? Will we ever be able to accept a curry cholent into the mainstream?
Only time will tell, kids. Only time will tell.
Pronounced: CHO-lent, Origin: Yiddish, but believed to be derived from French, a slow-cooked stew traditionally prepared for and left cooking over Shabbat.