I have a rule that there are certain foods that can only be eaten at certain times. For instance shmura matzo is only eaten on Pesach- I would never eat it year round because the only way I can actually eat it- is if I go somewhere that has it, I just never saw the sense in paying $30 a pound for stuff that could be bought for much less- without the taste going anywhere, I understand that its ability to be used as a Frisbee goes down- and the sheer joy that is felt when looking for a whole matzo for lechem mishna is gone, but is it really worth $30 a pound?
In Monsey I have encountered a phenomena that probably only exists where multitudes of Charedim decide to live. Cholent on the weekdays. This to me is a cultural impossibility, it takes away the fun of this reserved for shabbos food. In fact cholent is a way of life in Monsey, they serve it everywhere- even the Gas station serves cholent on Thursday night- which is borderline insanity and very funny.
Getty on the Hill as it is known locally serves cholent in large containers to people filling up their car with overpriced fuel. If only cars ran on methane, cholent could be the new ethanol. In fact Getty on the Hill is one of the most interesting establishments I have ever seen. I know I am going on a tangent here- and I am likely to return, but this gas station has signs all around it that say “not everything we sell is under hashgacha”, they sell Yiddish newspapers, bloomys candies and donuts from Fallsburg Bakery that you grab with your hands, because the heimishe way to do things has to be as dirty as possible.
So its Thursday night at 11pm and you have this frenzy of tzitzis sticking out of the vest Chassidim eating cholent, smoking cigarettes and filling up their minivans. All that’s missing is a fast and the furious drag race.
Speaking of cholent on weekdays, I went to wedding in Monsey that was mighty fancy in the food department and the only way you could tell it was a Monsey wedding was that there was a table amidst tables of sushi, carved meats and fancy Chinese food- that was reserved for the greasy heimishe people. This table had farfel, cholent, kishka, kugel, and shlishkes- I love shlishkes- but cholent at a wedding is just a bit too ghetto for me.
Then you have the kumzitz special at Kosher Castle- yes a take off on White Castle- even the empoyees seem to have the same amount of brain cells. In fact I hear they are thinking of a movie entitled Hindy and Chedva go to Kosher Castle- and its all about how they are trying to hitchhike there but no one will pick them up because they are girls…So the Kumzizt special is cholent, kugel and kishka.
Then if you ever have a hankering for real heimishe food and of course generous helpings of cholent for breakfast lunch and dinner- you can head over to any of the take out stores. Take out in Monsey is very hard if you don’t speak Yiddish, I have not once been able to order in a crowded take out place- its just insanity.
The weirdest cholent experience I have ever had- besides for wanting to write the script for “two Jews one cholent” was when I stayed for a night in Postville Iowa. I was on some random road trip and I wanted to see what Chassidim in corn country looked like- they look and drive no different then Boro Park. In fact in the morning there was a bris, and for the first time in my life I had cholent, kugel, chicken wings and meatballs for the bris meal. It was heaven for me- but a gastrointestinal nightmare for a road trip.
In the future I hope to do a comprehensive Monsey restaurant review, as well as some on scene reporting from the Getty on the Hill which is the gas station serving cholent.