SEAMUS MULDOON'S YOM KIPPUR CHOLENT
Seamus Muldoon, Himself
Two Yeshiva Bochers were once debating the mystical significance of the law pertaining to the Yom Kippur fast. Yom Kippur is, you will recall, the only fast day actually mentioned in the Torah (Leviticus 16:29). Self-affliction, as there used, has come to mean or to include abstention from eating in a culture in which maternal love is expressed through over feeding. Actually, the first mention of voluntary fasting is in connection with King David who refused food when he prayed for the child born to him by the wife of Uriah the Hittite (II Samuel 12:22). Other fasts proclaimed from time to time involve calamities of various sorts (Isaiah 58:3-10; Zechariah 8:19; Esther 9:31; Jeremiah 26:18). This discussion of the mystical properties of Seamus Mildoon's cholent pertains only to the limited context of Yom Kippur fasting, and not to fasting associated with calamities mentioned elsewhere in the Bible. Fasting associated with calamity may be in order for those who overeat at every opportunity to dine on Seamus Moldoon's Yom Kippur cholent.
Why, you may ask, does Muldoon deem his cholent to be a Yom Kippur-level experience? There are, as we are taught, at least two possible answers. First, the concoction does indeed possess such divine attributes of ethos that its consumption must be compared to the eating of matzot on Pesach. Second, Muldoon is simply boasting. Those of you who favor the second answer need read no further, and are free to return to your boil-in-the-bag, TV dinner lives that will ultimately do you in with colo-rectal cancer. For the more enlightened, I shall continue.
To return to our story, these two Yeshiva Bochers were debating the mysticism of fasting on Yom Kippur. One should remember that among Yeshiva Bochers, what they may lack in material wealth they more than make up for in privation and squalor. To them, fasting is an Olympic sport, second only to masturbation and dandruff. To them God has given the power to avoid starvation without having to eat, for instead of starving they can fast. Perhaps, through the understanding of their lifestyle you can appreciate how these two Yeshiva Bochers came to be discussing the mystical significance of Yom Kippur fasting in such a fashion that ultimately, in a flash of insight it occurred to them that something could be so bound up in the collective social experience of a people, and so delectable and so marvelously aromatic and satisfying that its consumption on the holiest of fast days would not be in violation of the law pertaining to Yom Kippur fasting, but rather the highest form of its observance. After all, is not the observance of Yom Kippur for the purpose of obtaining satisfaction? Do we not aspire to be spared the great annual Yom Kippur selection and to be sent to the right rather than to the left? Indeed, how could anyone keep the anxiety of such a day from overwhelming him and causing him to make a shambles of such an experience, if not for the discovery of the mystical exonerative option of eating Seamus Muldoon's Yom Kippur cholent?
Anyway, back to our story! These two Yeshiva Bochers were discussing the mystical significance of Yom Kippur fasting, and were interested in the idea that, with respect to the holiest day, Shabbat, on which one does not fast, the Kabbalah recounts that the symbolism is a marriage between God and Israel in honor of the acceptance of the responsibility of the commandments at the theophany on Mount Sinai (Exodus 31:17). The mystically of Shabbat, therefore, maybe fulfilled through the rite of consummation of marriage, which explains the orthodox custom of copulation on Friday night. This is not specifically called for in the Torah, which speaks of Shabbat in terms of commandments to honor and observe (Exodus 20:8; Deuteronomy 5:12). Nonetheless, the prophets have instructed us to call Shabbat a delight and an honor (Isaiah 58:13). Moshe ben Maimon, Maimonides, instructs that it is necessary on Shabbat to "arrange the bed" (Mishna Torah, Set Feasts, Chapter 30).
With the sensuality of the holiest day firmly in mind, it occurred to these two Yeshiva Bochers that there must be some relenting, some respite from a regimen of day-long self affliction (Leviticus 16:29) associated with Yom Kippur, and that the mystical significance of that optimism can be tested only by eating. One even ventured that Leviticus 16:29 only applied to the uncircumcised, which could mean that the obligation to fast applied only during the time of slavery in Egypt when circumcision was not permitted. This interpretation is not totally without authority, because in Leviticus 23:29 it says that who does not observe and fast on that day shall be cut off. As both these Yeshiva Bochers had already been cut off in that sense, they decided they had little to lose and would test the proposition.
Now, for such an eschatological experiment the proper vehicle must be carefully selected. Anything ordinary would be an affront. For example, eating oysters wouldn't do, even though Yom Kippur ends in an "r". The food selected must so epitomize the Jewish ethos that its consumption becomes an act of remembrance, of dedication and of soul enrichment, as well as a damn good meal. Chicken soup was suggested first, but quickly rejected as too commercial, too cliche'. Even the goyim now know of its curative properties, and chicken soup jokes have degraded it below the level of mystical experience. Each taxed his recollection of glorious meals gone by to find an appropriate dish for Yom Kippur lunch. Finally, in a flash of brilliance, it dawned upon them, so astoundingly appropriate that it had to have been suggested by God's own chef. CHOLENT!!!!
Cholent---that slow cooked delight for which there was no single recipe. Its universality, its amenability to the means of rich and poor alike, imparted the properties of sacred ritual. Cholent---into which you could put a horse, or an old shoe or boot (and into which many put ham hocks, just for spite) without destroying the taste or texture. Cholent----which has regional characteristics and is different in a Polish home than in the home of a Czech, Hungarian, Russian, Lithuanian or German. Cholent----the browness of the potatoes; the falling-apart doneness of the meat (if you can afford meat); the gas producing nature of the beans that provides physical pleasure to the elderly----the gravy, redolent of garlic and cooked carrots and onions; THE EXPERIENCE!!!!
Nothing makes beer taste as good as cholent!
Cholent-----the recipe for which is as follows:
5-7 lbs brisket, chuck, pot roast, and some lamb shanks or lamb shoulder - don't be stingy
14 carrots, peeled and cut in 2 inch lengths
16 medium potatoes, peeled and left whole
6 medium onions, coarsely chopped
2 entire heads of garlic, peeled and rough chopped or sliced
6 tsp, each, salt, black pepper, paprika
5 packages frozen baby lime beans
Brown the meat in a skillet in chicken fat - then set the meat aside. Sauté the onions in the same fat. Put the onions in the largest roasting pan you can get into your oven, with the fat. Put the meat on the bed of onions in the roaster. Sprinkle in the chopped or sliced garlic. Put the carrots and potatoes around the side of the meat. Sprinkle in the salt, pepper and paprika. Add hot water to cover everything in the pan by two inches.Cover the pan and roast at 275 F for 20-24 hours.
Three hours before the end of roasting, remove some of the gravy (you could skim most of the fat first) into another pot, and simmer the lima beans in the gravy to be served with the cholent.
Serve with tons of bread and gallons of beer. A small salad is ok, but cholent does not need an appetizer, believe me. Cholent is not for the dainty or the fastidious.. Cholent is for satisfying deep hunger, down into your very soul.
CAUTION - Should you be so foolish as to have Rumanian friends, don't listen to any suggestion from any of them about cholent.
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