Whether you pronounce it with a short O as in _corn_ or with OO as in _cool_, the fact remains that cholent is unequivocally Jewish cuisine. It was born of Orthodox Jewish observance of the Sabbath, when fires could not be kindled. Instead, families would either leave a real low oven going at home or take their pots to the village baker and let the food cook overnight.
Some contend that every slow-cooking dish made with beans derives from this Jewish technique. There is no doubt that, in Hungary, it evolved into "shalet," one of the national dishes, while the Pilgrims, after spending time with Sephardic Jews in Holland, adopted it prior to sailing to the New World. The substitutions they later had to make for some ingredients resulted in Boston baked beans.
The origin of cholent is likely in the pre-Inquisition Sephardic kitchen. From there, it probably "traveled" to Alsace, where it is believed to have been called "chault-lent;" Old French for hot and slow. When it was then brought to Germany and Eastern Europe, it took on the basic composition which characterizes it today. Whether the _hamin_ of Sephardic communities, the cholent of Ashkenazic ones, or a fusion of the two, it is still favored by many for Shabbat, particularly on a cold winter day.
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