Legendary GQ food writer Alan Richman is a deli man himself, having spent years in Montreal, and now residing in New York. His work is some of the best out there in defining American eating, and I am repeatedly referred to his classic story on the last living Jewish waiters in New York’s famous eateries.
The professional Jewish waiter was as much an American original as the workingmen who drove herds of cattle, laid railroad tracks, built skyscrapers. He just moved a lot slower. Bobby Trager, the chef of Nate ‘n Al’s delicatessen in Beverly Hills, recalls frequent visits to Ratner’s with his grandmother, who would always treat him to the vegetarian chopped liver he loved. “No waiters ever walked like them,” he says. “They walked like they were old, even when they were 25. It was almost like they had a walker, but they didn’t have a walker.”
If you haven’t read this article yet, please do so. It is the finest testament to those tired, grumpy few who serve us the foods we so love for so many years.