Saturday, January 23, 2010

On My Nightstand: Save the Deli

Deli is the kind of comfort food that warms my soul. It's what I grew up with and absolutely nothing beats a perfectly made hot pastrami on rye. I had the benefit of growing up in Brooklyn, where the Mill Basin Deli was unrivaled in its sandwiches and other classic Jewish (and kosher) dishes. We also were able to visit many of the other delis in the city, some of which are still around.

Yet, delis, and more specifically, the kosher Jewish deli, are an endangered species because tastes change and the art of cooking and preparing these dishes is slowly disappearing.

David Sax goes around the country and even around the world to see the state of the deli with his loving book, Save the Deli. He got quite a bit of press on claiming that Los Angeles is the new capital of deli, but I still think that the New York Jewish deli trumps the LA scene. There is a distinct difference between New York, Jewish (New York) style and the kosher deli.

And therein lies the chief problem for the kosher deli. Cost. It is just a whole lot more expensive to insure that food is prepared in a kosher manner than it is to do so otherwise. That puts additional pressure on the deli men (and it's invariably men who run these delis) to survive and thrive in a competitive dining environment.

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