Culture, Global

Meat Wars!

We’ve had debates over NYC knishes and promoted a lecture on Montreal smoked meat, but have we ever had a culinary battle between the two cities?
Montreal doesn’t do knishes. NYC doesn’t do poutine. (No matter what they say.) That leaves us with deli sandwiches. NY’s pastrami and Montreal’s smoked meat are comparable; their countries of original, recipes and methods, are similar enough. But the taste is completely different. has “Smoked Meat vs. Pastrami currently on their site.

My wife, Gretchen, and I recently found ourselves faced with a unique opportunity: to eat the famed smoked meat of Montreal, then travel back to New York and taste our home city’s notorious counterpart, pastrami, all within a few hours of each other. This rare, real-time comparison turned into a pastrami vs. smoked meat smackdown, as we tried to answer the fundamental question: “Which is better?”

Check it out. And let me know what you think…
(Meanwhile, I know what I’ll be having for lunch on my next trips to NY and Montreal, though not from the restaurants listed in the article above.)

6 thoughts on “Meat Wars!

  1. I don’t know where feygele got the idea that Montreal doesn’t do knishes. Sure it does. I’ve seen and eaten them there many times.

  2. I was in Montreal a few years ago. I was sorry to find out the famous Schwartz’s wasn’t kosher. Did get kosher smoked meat sandwich, I think at the JCC (YMHA?). I suspect it was not on the level of S, but it was the only kosher smoked meat I could find.

  3. Jeff hit it straight on. There aren’t any quality kosher delis in Montreal, while in NY, you can get both unkosher and kosher pastrami.

  4. Smoked meat, all the way. For Kosher, Ernie and Ellie’s in Decarie Square has OK smoked meat. Chez Benny’s has smoked meat, but I haven’t tried it. There are more restaurants listed on the Montreal Kosher website.
    Schwartz’s isn’t Kosher, but it is still delicious. I also have a soft spot for Snowdon Deli because it’s in the neighborhood that my dad grew up in. Snowdon Deli isn’t Kosher either.
    I’ve seen knishes in Montreal, but they aren’t really a thing. Karnatzel, pickled green tomatoes, and Cott’s Cherry I haven’t seen elsewhere though.

  5. Being from Montreal (originally, though I don’t live there now), I suppose I’m biased, but seriously. Smoked meat. Medium fat, on rye, with mustard. This is the one thing in the world that keeps me from becoming totally vegetarian.
    Pastrami doesn’t taste as good, and it’s too dry.
    The biggest effect 9/11 had on my family was that when luggage was searched more thoroughly, it was no longer possible for my cousin to bring us smoked meat when he came to visit.

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