Accepted Paper:

Ciulim, cholent and the uses of idealized Polish-Jewish past in local politics of history  


Magdalena Zatorska (University of Warsaw)

Paper short abstract:

The aim of the proposed paper is to analyze cultural functioning of ciulim, traditional local food prepared in Lelów (Częstochowa County, Silesia Voivodeship in the Southern Poland) and to describe how it is used to create idealized Polish-Jewish past in local politics of history.

Paper long abstract:

Ciulim is traditional local food prepared in Lelów, small village located in Częstochowa County, Silesia Voivodeship, in the Southern Poland. The most distinctive feature of ciulim is the process of its preparation - it is cooked in a big pot and then put into bread oven for approximately twelve hours. The recipe and the way of preparing ciulim is considered local heritage. At the same time, it is a symbol of Polish-Jewish coexistence in Lelów, as ciulim derives from Jewish cholent. Ciulim and cholent are therefore the "main characters" of Polish-Jewish Festival of Ciulim - Cholent, which has been organized in Lelów since 2003.

After the Second World War and the extermination of Jewish community, Lelów has no Jewish inhabitants. However, it became a destination for Hasidic pilgrims from Israel and United States, who visit the grave of tzaddick David Biederman (1746-1814). In proposed paper I would like to analyze how local narratives on ciulim and cholent and their origins are used to create a myth of peaceful coexistence of Poles and Jews in Lelów over centuries. I would like to explore the understanding of the Festival of Ciulim - Cholent as an element of the strategy for regional development, as well as an important aspect of promoting openness and tolerance among local inhabitants towards Hasidim visiting Lelów.

Panel Food001
Culinary heritage as an island of well-being (Panel of SIEF working groups 'Historical approaches in cultural analysis' and 'Food research')