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THIS IS NOT A CHOLENT by Sarah Sassoon


by Sarah Sassoon ; illustrated by Viviana Garofoli

Pub Date: May 7th, 2024
ISBN: 9781728486482
Publisher: Kar-Ben

In this tale set in Australia, a girl and her grandmother demonstrate that it’s what comes out of the pot that matters.

Amira and Nana are entering their special cholent (a slow-simmering stew cooked overnight on Friday and eaten for lunch on Saturday, when observant Jews are forbidden to cook) in the “annual Best Cholent Competition Down Under.” As they add their ingredients—chicken, eggs, tomatoes, garlic—to the pot, the onlookers comment skeptically, “This is not a cholent.” That’s because the naysayers are accustomed to cholent made from beef, potatoes, barley, and beans. But Nana explains that this is a traditional recipe in her family that she’ll pass down to Amira. The next day, the judges are unanimous: “This is not a cholent…But it’s delicious! What is it?” Amira explains it is a cholent, an Iraqi one, a stew called t’bit or hamin, prepared for Shabbat lunch, like cholent, “but it smells and tastes like other languages and other lands.” The ecstatic judges ask for seconds; others follow suit and agree it’s the best cholent ever. This is a charming story about the beauty of honoring one’s culture even in the face of those who don’t understand. Sassoon closes with her own grandmother’s recipe for t’bit, as well as information on Australia’s Jewish population. The lively, colorful illustrations are delightful. Amira and Nana have light brown skin; background figures are diverse.

Delicious and guaranteed to leave readers hungry for more helpings.

(Picture book. 4-8)