Anatomy of a Pastrami Sandwich

Interesting report on a recent panel discussion in Berkeley: will the Jewish deli survive the sustainable food movement?
One critical historical note courtesy of Karen Adelman and Peter Levitt (owners of a Bay Area deli that uses local, grass-fed meat, fish from sustainable farms and homemade celery soda) :

What American Jews think of as the authentic Jewish deli is an ossified construct based on post-World War II ideals of abundance that had little to do with how Jews ate in early 20th-century New York, let alone in the Old World.
That mile-high, fatty pastrami sandwich served at Katz’s or the Carnegie Deli? American, not Jewish, they say. Jewish cooking a century ago was all about thrift, seasonality and resourcefulness. Every part of the animal was used; portions were small; tomatoes were served in summer and beets in winter.
Today’s customers want everything on the menu year-round; if they don’t get it, Levitt said, “they complain it isn’t a ‘real’ Jewish deli.”
“‘Authentic’ is a moving target,” Adelman added, pointing out how Jewish cuisine in this country has developed with each new immigration wave. “What we’re arguing is, we’re more authentic. What’s authentic about mass-produced food and giant menus?”

Click here to consume the full article.

9 thoughts on “Anatomy of a Pastrami Sandwich

  1. Now if only there was a “kosher-style” deli focusing on local & sustainable foods that was actually kosher or at least stopped selling sandwiches with meat and cheese. It’s one thing to talk about historical vs. modern traditions, but the pastrami & cheese sandwich in a deli that tries to play up it’s Jewish-ness has always bothered me. It’s a deli. It’s a deli that focuses on local and sustainable foods. Why that makes it Jewish, and worth international write-ups, I don’t understand.

  2. Saul’s is literally a 4 minute walk from my house. Their audience isn’t Jewish – its yuppie. Saul’s deli and its owners are trying to sell a form of yuppie Jewishness to non-Jews. They are selling an invented authenticity to pastrami-loving goyim by couching their sustainable deli as an internal communal conversation. We Jews living here know that Saul’s is a rip-off.

  3. Shalom Rav, it would be kind of you to remove or remame the pastrami-sandwich.jpg file for a few hours.
    It would be a kindness to those fasting whether they have a sense of humor or whether they are anti-Israel.

  4. It’s not Ta’anit Esther right now in Israel. Why are you anti-Israel?
    @BZ. If it’s not too private, what do you do for a living? (I’m asking because you seem smart as hell.)

  5. invisible_hand, that’s the first Jewschool comment to make me actually laugh out loud in awhile. My coworkers are looking at me funny. Thanks.

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