≡ Menu

The cholent sucks here

When I first moved out here I didn’t mind the green kiddush much, some chips and salsa, veggie sticks, guacamole and several varieties of cookies seemed alright to me – but I’ve been here a year and this is one of the true sides to living in the west. I’m sure there are shuls in LA that know how to throw a kiddush, but here in the Bay Area and several other west coast communities I have been in – they just don;t know how to do it and it truly bothers me.

Unlike many east coast communities, I have found that here on the west coast, shuls tend to have a kiddush every week. At first this seemed like a great idea, I always thought that kiddush was like an extension of davening, only you didn’t have the mechitza to block your view and you could talk without being shushed, but I finally realized that the kiddushim all sucked in these parts.

I am not going to point any fingers, but lets just say that the shuls in the west fail miserably at the ever complex art of making cholent, the only shul which had good cholent in the Bay Area is Adath Israel in San Francisco and this is due to the fact that the Rabbi makes the cholent. Based on my lunch eating experiences, it seems that the only people who even make cholent are Rabbis, maybe that proves that the only one’s who could make cholent are Rabbis? Or maybe it shows that BT’s don’t make a good cholent – proven by the simple fact that the only people who made cholent for lunch in my eating experiences so far here have been FFB’s?

Let’s move on to other key items missing at the West Coast Green Kiddush (the green kiddush transcends political and religious values and it can also be found in other small towns) I have never seen kugel here on the west coast, I used to complain a lot about heimishe foods and their brown tendencies, but here in the west, kiddush and lunches tend to be devoid of kugel.

Curiously enough, I thought of this post while driving down the Oregon coast last week a day after my brothers wedding and as I was staring at the jagged cliffs, cucumber salad popped into my head and I thought about when the last time I had cucumber salad was – I feel like this is one of those New York staples – cucumber and onion salad in a flimsy plastic bowl. I also began to think of the soggy broccoli and crasin salad and eventually settled on that really crappy pasta salad that is drenched in some general creamy Italian sauce. I thought of how bad they were – yet how much I missed them.

Not only have I not had kishke at any kiddush since moving to the west, this includes LA, Sacramento, Portland and Reno – I have not had any kishke at someone’s house. What’s up with that?

Look the green kiddush isn’t terrible, it has its highlights, but certian shuls around here should seriously hire one of the Rabbis in the shul to make the cholent. I was at a shul once up here that had three cholents and they all had no taste, it was very disappointing. I find this ever the more surprising considering the fact that people in Northern California love their food, which leads me to believe that these people just don;t take cholent cooking seriously enough, maybe they look at it as some barbaric ultra orthodox food from the shtetl which should have been left in Europe.

If you want a community with really good cholent, check out Dallas!

{ 16 comments… add one }
  • Leftover Cholent December 7, 2010, 2:20 PM

    However much we all complain about stale Tam Tams, the pasta salad practically floating in vinegary dressing, flavorless kishka, and that “soggy broccoli and craisin salad”, deep down we really love it. We stand by the kiddush tables complaining about it as we shovel it into our mouths anyway. And you’re right, if we are deprived of those same terrible foods, we will miss them.

    What do they serve at Bay Area kiddushes in lieu of our heimishe food? Fish tacos and california rolls?

  • Huh? December 7, 2010, 3:18 PM

    No half cookies, no tiny pieces of crispy cremes, no muthers cheese cake slices, no sweet kugel with too much pepper?

    You should ask the sisterhood at the off limits shule to send you a care package!

    • Heshy Fried December 8, 2010, 1:56 AM

      As far as I know they don’t even have sisterhoods here – the communities don;t have enough older folks for that sort of thing

  • Izzy December 7, 2010, 4:33 PM

    If great cholent (or the lack thereof) in the west is your thing, you need to stop for a Shabbos at the Chabad of Chatsworth, CA. The cholent and Kishka each week is made by the Rebbetzin and you will not go home disspointed. The mix of single malt scotches regularly brought by the local BTs helps. A mix of Israelis in the Shul provide great salads and humus. Agreed, the absent of good kugel on the west is a travesty.

  • s. December 7, 2010, 4:36 PM

    come to LA again – the minyan i went to last week had two types of cholent and kishka. i’m not a big cholent fan but this was pretty good. and they also had the guacamole and corn chips 🙂

  • hebrewgirl December 7, 2010, 7:01 PM

    ” My heart is in the East, and I am at the ends of the West,
    How can I taste what I eat, and how could it be pleasing to me?”

    –Yehuda Halevi

  • Mordechai Y. Scher December 7, 2010, 8:51 PM

    hebrewgirl – very cute! Even if Rabi Yehuda Halevi would find it sacrilegiouis. 😉

    Chulent, like most foods, is regional. You got it right that some people think it should have been left in Eastern Europe, where it was about all anyone could come up with using local ingredients for Shabbat. Hatch green chile stew rocks and rules on Shabbat! That’s a favorite here in Santa Fe, and more than a worthy replacement for cholent. But, the chulent I’ve had here at friends’ home is made by the wife, with kishke, and it is outstanding. And not FFB.

  • OfftheDwannaB December 7, 2010, 9:16 PM

    Stop, you’re making me cry.

  • ari December 8, 2010, 1:50 AM

    if shuls dont have cholent for kiddush i just leave

  • Aaron David December 8, 2010, 2:04 AM


  • Aaron David December 8, 2010, 2:04 AM

    I think this is a farse.

  • BT December 8, 2010, 8:13 AM

    Some crowds who are not authentic heimish can’t do chulent right.

    I go to a shul where they have a kiddush just about every week.
    They serve chulent but to me it doesn’t taste how chulent should taste.
    No one seems to notice but me. They think it tastes great.
    But I am not fooled. 🙂

    I gotta say that I love heimish food.
    And no one does heimish food like the Chasidim.
    To me everything that says made in Boro Park is awesome.
    They used to sell these awesome sandwiches in the Seven Elevens in Brooklyn. Maybe they still sell them. They’re made in Boro Park and they’re just awesome.

  • Anonymous December 9, 2010, 1:54 PM

    rabbi ginsberg’s shul on beverly near spalding in the la brea area of la,has or used to have awesome cholent .

  • former bay area folk December 9, 2010, 2:18 PM

    try bar yochai in sunnyvale on a week where mrs. zaghi does the kiddush.

  • MLR February 1, 2011, 4:06 PM

    Here in LA most people make cholent and most shuls have a decent weekly kiddush. (Sometimes without cholent but most weeks there is one)

    Sponsored lunches at the shul are even better. Especially if catered from outside.

Leave a Comment