And today, cholent can tilt toward the trendy: Marks has made a mole cholent with turkey, chocolate and Tex-Mex spices, and demand for vegetarian cholents is burgeoning.
German poet Heinrich Heine, known for his complicated relationship with Judaism, had cholent, that steaming Sabbath stew that he exalts in an 1851 poem entitled Princess Sabbath.
Cholent as we know it today--a slow-cooking stew most commonly comprised of potatoes, barley, beans and beef--likely got its start in the late 12th or early 13th century, according to Gil Marks, author of Encyclopedia of Jewish Food.
Served for Shabbat lunch and defined by its long cooking time, cholent has the distinction of being one of the few uniquely Jewish dishes.
Cholent, though, is a product not of geography, but of religious mandate.
The word cholent, according to Marks, probably comes from chand, the Old French word for "warm," though some maintain that its origin is chand-de-lit, meaning "warmth of the bed.
The French cassoulet, a mixture of beans and various meats, is, according to Marks, almost certainly a twist on cholent.
Within the Jewish community, cholent can inspire cult-like adulation among those who eat it frequently--a group composed primarily of Orthodox Jews.