Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ode to Cholent

The German poet Heinrich Heine was born in Dusseldorf, Rhineland in 1797. His Jewish education was quite sparse and his family’s religious observances minimal.  In response to the Prussian government’s increasingly Antisemitic laws, Heine made a pro-forma conversion to Protestantism in 1825, citing it as “the entry ticket into European culture.” He was later to claim that he had never left his Jewishness.
 The Damascus Affair of 1840 reignited Heine’s Jewish self-identification and feelings of protection toward his fellow Jews.  The same year he published “Princess Sabbath,” part of his “Hebrew Melodies” collection.  Although the work is shot through with humor and irony, his affection for his ancestral faith is evident.  Contained in its lines is his tongue-in-cheek “Ode to Schalet[1],” modeled after Schiller’s “Ode to Joy,” set to music by Beethoven in his 9th Symphony.
"Schalet, ray of light immortal !
Schalet, daughter of Elysium ! "
So had Schiller's song resounded,
Had he ever tasted schalet.

"For this schalet is the very-
Food of heaven, which, on Sinai,
God Himself instructed Moses
In the secret of preparing,

"At the time He also taught him
And revealed in flames of lightning
All the doctrines good and pious.
And the holy Ten Commandments."

With that, here are two recipes, one for cholent, the other for its Sephardic brother, chamin or dafina.

[1] i.e. Cholent


  1. oh, yum! This looks great!


  2. I hope it sounds better in German.