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The Angel and the Cholent

Food Representation from the Israel Folktale Archives

Idit Pintel-Ginsberg

Food and Beverage, Jewish Life and Tradition, Folklore

Raphael Patai Series in Jewish Folklore and Anthropology

Printed Paper Cased
Published: October 2021
ISBN: 9780814348857
Pages: 220 Size: 6x9
Published: October 2021
ISBN: 9780814348840
Pages: 220 Size: 6x9
Published: October 2021
ISBN: 9780814348864

The Angel and the Cholent: Food Representation from the Israel Folktale Archives by Idit Pintel-Ginsberg, translated into English for the first time from Hebrew, analyzes how food and foodways are the major agents generating the plots of several significant folktales. The tales were chosen from the Israel Folktales Archives’ (IFA) extensive collection of twenty-five thousand tales. In looking at the subject of food through the lens of the folktale, we are invited to consider these tales both as a reflection of society and as an art form that discloses hidden hopes and often subversive meanings.

The Angel and the Cholent presents thirty folktales from seventeen different ethnicities and is divided into five chapters. Chapter 1 considers food and taste—tales included here focus on the pleasure derived by food consumption and its reasonable limits. The tales in Chapter 2 are concerned with food and gender, highlighting the various and intricate ways food is used to emphasize gender functions in society, the struggle between the sexes, and the love and lust demonstrated through food preparations and its consumption. Chapter 3 examines food and class with tales that reflect on how sharing food to support those in need is a universal social act considered a "mitzvah" (a Jewish religious obligation), but it can also become an unspoken burden for the providers. Chapter 4 deals with food and kashrut—the tales included in this chapter expose the various challenges of "keeping kosher," mainly the heavy financial burden it causes and the social price paid by the inability of sharing meals with non-Jews. Finally, Chapter 5 explores food and sacred time, with tales that convey the tension and stress caused by finding and cooking specific foods required for holiday feasts, the Shabbat and other sacred times.

The tales themselves can be appreciated for their literary quality, humor, and profound wisdom. Readers, scholars, and students interested in folkloristic and anthropological foodway studies or Jewish cultural studies will delight in these tales and find the editorial commentary illuminating.

Idit Pintel-Ginsberg served for over ten years as the academic coordinator of the Israel Folklore Archives at the University of Haifa. She is the coeditor of The Power of a Tale: Stories from the Israel Folktale Archives with Haya Bar-Itzhak (Wayne State University Press, 2019) and Masoret Haya, 33 Essays in Folklore in Honor of Professor Haya Bar-Itzhak with Tsafi Seba-Elran and Haya Milo.

Pintel-Ginsberg provides an insightful and informed discussion of poetic and cultural aspects of food as they unfold in thirty folktales selected from the IFA. Food proves to be a complex lens through which stories represent individuals and communities, negotiating their experiences, boundaries, and identities. And doing so, not uncommonly, with a pinch of salt. This indeed is a feast of flavors and ideas embedded in short narratives, now made available for an English-speaking audience.

– Dina Stein, University of Haifa, Academic Head, The Israel Folktale Archives

Pintel-Ginsberg has mined the rich treasures of the IFA that she skillfully administered in the past, introducing to a wider audience the diverse tastes and smells of Israeli food in the imaginative, intimate, and affectionate folds of folk narratives. This tasty broth of delectable ingredients will please the palates of readers of all ages and from all cultures.

– Galit Hasan-Rokem, co-editor of Companion to Folklore

The stories themselves offer more for study than for sharing aloud, but with this book, a feast has been served.

– Sharon Elswit, Jewish Book Council

The Angel and the Cholent: Food Representations in the Israel Folktale Archives presents stories about food told by 29 storytellers representing 17 different locales or communities around the world. With each story, author Idit Pintel-Ginsberg provides information about where and how the story was collected, and from whom. She also provides a scholarly discussion of the significance of each story in relation to Jewish traditions and in the context of the Aarne-Thompson index of motifs of world folktales.

– Louis Finkelman, Detroit Jewish News

The Angel and the Cholent is delightful, informative, insightful, and well-written—in short, a pleasure to read. It focuses on the confluence of Jewish foodways and folk narrative, presenting thirty folktales from the Israel Folktale Archive (IFA) with ac- companying analyses for each.

– STEVE SIPORIN, Western Folklore