Save the Deli

Knish Press

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

+ = knish press

I read something in the New York Times today (honestly other newspapers…why do you even try?) that blew my socks off. It was nestled in an article about new, unknown sandwiches, and it was simply a revelation.
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Elegy for Rascal House and some tech notes

Monday, April 28th, 2008

Welcome back to Save the Deli. After a Passover hiatus (which I DID NOT BREAK), I am now back in the land of gluten, yeast, leavening, and flour. Delis which took the past week off, have now reopened, prepping for the takeout summer season, and the eventual buildup to the crazy fall. The birds are chirping, the sun is out (or at least was last week in Toronto), and the trees are blooming. There’s even rumors of a new deli opening up here, but you’ll hear more later.

I’ve got a great elegy on the Rascal House a friend sent, but first, I want to make a brief note about the website.
Some of you have rightly complained that your comments are not being posted as soon as you make them. Often, it takes many days, and you want to know why. Well, the answer is SPAM. For every one legitimate comment, there are probably 100 ads for porno, penis enlargement, fake watches, and various other crap. Welcome to the great information superhighway…now sit in traffic. Each day I have to go through the comments, one by one, and dig out the real stuff from the dreck. I usually find them all, though occasionally I miss your words, and I’m always always late in doing so. What can I say? Be patient…I’ll get it eventually.

Also, many of you send me multiple emails via the form on the page. You only need to send once…even if you don’t receive a confirmation notice. Don’t worry, I get them all.

Now, I present today’s poetry “AN ELEGY ON THE CLOSING OF WOLFIE COHEN’S RASCAL HOUSE”

by John Mariani

“For a cast of Rascal House regulars, the end will come Sunday night, when the hallowed deli in Sunny Isles Beach closes its doors for good. Gone will be the red vinyl booths, the fabled corned beef sandwiches and stuffed cabbage, the cartoonish devil smiling impishly above the tattered green awning. “–The Miami Herald, March 29, 2008.

Oy, say it isn’t so that Wolfie’s gone,
The deli on Miami Beach bar none!
And tell me now where will its faithful flock
Now go to get a tasty hot kreplach?

For fifty-four good years it reigned supreme,
With bagels piled with lox and sour cream.
A place you’d go for liver chopped so fine,
And sour kosher pickles leave you cryin’.

To cure a cold the chicken soup will do,
To cure your broken heart some borscht for you!
And regulars will say what’s not to love
About the verdant grass soup that’s called shav?

In memory of the noodle pudding kugel
Blow loud and long and slow the gilded bugle!
No more the storied latkes of potato,
No more the cabbage sauced with lush tomato.

I know no better kishka of stuffed derma
In all of this wide, now sad terra firma.
I’ll dream of all those golden brown knishes,
And suffer pangs of hunger for smoked fishes.

The smell alone of hearty carrot tzimmes
That mingles with chuck steak and gently simmers!
The cholent! Flanken! Whitefish! Fatty brisket!
So many many people sure will miss it.

No blintzes stuffed abundantly with cheese?
Oh, tell me where to find their match now, please.
I may grow schmaltzy praising this and that,
But that’s what true schmaltz is—it’s chicken fat.

So Wolfie Cohen’s Rascal House is shuttered,
And no one sliced pastrami as they cut it.
So here’s to fifty-four delicious years,
Ah, what I’d give for just a few more schmears.

A more reflective Pesach

Friday, April 18th, 2008

Last year, I celebrated the start of Passover with a tiny bit of thought and a whole lot of shtick, including clips from the Family Guy. And as delis the world over shut down for the next week, entering a sort of forced fallow season (and the one time of year when deli owners get a holiday), I intended to do the same. (more…)

Save the Knish…er, kinda

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I’ll buy that, but I’ll do one better and say that satire is adding on a whole other level to the flattery. Now, I don’t know whether the site Save the Knish came after Save the Deli, but I do know the following is freaking genius:
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A Vote for Langer’s is a Vote for Deli

Monday, April 14th, 2008

America is in the midst of a contentious electoral moment right now. Passions and rhetoric are running high, and the lives and passions of many are on the line. The debates try to sway the hearts of voters, and smear campaigns are just a part of the game, but at the end of the day, all that counts are the votes. (more…)

Sadie Katz Delicatessen brings haymish tastes to Vermont

Thursday, April 10th, 2008


Photo courtesy of Emily J. Nelson, Free Press

If you, like me, spent the better (or worse) part of your adolescence listening to the wayyyy out guitar solos and instrumental mashups of 1990′s Vermont jam band Phish, you’ll have a soft spot for the city of Burlington, Vermont. A hippy paradise on a lake, close to the ski hills of Stowe and Mad River, with a rocking college scene draped in tie dye and reeking of bong hits, it remains a musical mecca for mellow heads.

Sure, Vermont’s a goyish place, but it’s goyish in that friendly, milk drinking, butter churning, maple syrup sipping way. It’s a land of Subarus and bumper stickers, and probably one of the nicest states in the whole union. Now, Vermont can boast a Jewish deli of its own, after the Sadie Katz Delicatessen recently opened. (more…)

Write in Delis in Philly and Jersey

Monday, April 7th, 2008

I realized this week that it was just over a year ago when I finished my deli journey around the United States. In two months, and over 10,000 miles, I drove from Toronto to Los Angeles, over to Miami, and back home, hitting as many delis as I could along the way. I probably went to over 200 delis, though I’ve yet to formally count them all. I had very little free time, drove like mad, and ate like a fiend. But even then, I missed quite a lot. Geography deprived me of delis in Minnesota and the Pacific Northwest. And in the end, with Passover approaching, I had to cut the trip short and head back home straight from DC. So I missed out on several key deli markets, including Baltimore, Philadelphia, New Jersey and Boston. (more…)

Rascal House: The Final Indignity

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008


Barbara P. Fernandez for The New York Times

I know, I know. Enough with the Rascal House already. It’s done, dead, finished. Toyt Fahrtik Gishtorbin.

But what can I do? This was THE deli of south Florida, and its death is pure tragedy. It’s been closed for three days, but I was sent this story in the New York Times from my publisher, and there was something inside that just ground my gears. (more…)

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