As the nights draw in and the weather turns cold, we have less time on our already frenetic Friday afternoons to prepare for Shabbat. The solution is a famous Jewish delicacy that's both quick to prepare and warming on a chilly day. I'm talking of course, about Cholent or Hamin or Adafina for those with a Sephardi background - the famous dish incorporating a combination of beef, beans, barley and potatoes, slowly simmered from some time on a Friday afternoon until Shabbat after shul.
Mrs G and I differ on the way in which to make cholent - she slathers it with such bizarre substances as ketchup and barbecue sauce whilst I prefer to add in date honey and red wine. We are both united in our dislike of beans as a base for the cholent and our home is less malodorous as a result. I like to add some eggs to hard boil in the pot - she is happy to go without. Both our versions are delicious - a large hunk of beef, lots of onion and garlic, regular and sweet potatoes, barley and kishke (a type of sausage) are layered together in our slow cooker with cooking liquids and left to work their magic for the best part of 24 hours.
Whether we use my recipe or Mrs G's, come Shabbat morning, an incredible, tempting aroma wafts through our home, screaming at us to dispense with any sort of civilised niceties, forget going to Shul and to get stuck in. This, together with chicken soup, is the perfume of the Shabbes bride. And herein lies the problem - 5:30 on a Shabbat morning finds me lying in bed, wide awake, being tantalised by the smell. My mouth waters, my stomach rumbles and I simply can't get back to sleep no matter how tired I know it will leave me feeling.
I find myself left with a very stark choice - do I forego the delights of cholent or run the risk of falling asleep during the Rabbi's sermon (usually this would be a no-brainer but my Rabbi is an exceptional speaker!) The only logical way out of it that I can see is to do our best to make sure that we're invited out for Shabbat lunch. Any takers?