I have a smattering of stuff today, though next week, with the opening of Caplansky’s in downtown Toronto, promises to be big.
First off…deli’s favorite cousin, the bagel, has finally made it into space. And not just any old Einstein’s or even H and H bagel…no sir. It’s my favorite Montreal bagels…the dense, hand rolled, slightly sweet, very chewy variety that are baked in wood fired ovens. Apparently the family that owns the Fairmount Bagel Bakery have a cousin who’s an astronaut.
When NASA officials asked Gregory Chamitoff what food item he wanted to bring aboard Discovery for a 14-day flight into space, he thought of something special from the Canadian city of his birth.
Chamitoff is the cousin of Rhonda Shlafman, owner of Montreal’s Fairmount Bagel, where customers often endure long line-ups to taste the bakery’s food.
“He asked me to send him a special treat, so what I did was I packed a box with four six-packs of bagels,” Shlafman told CTV Montreal. “Apparently he got three six-packs up there with the space shuttle.”
Chamitoff, who is one of seven astronauts aboard Discovery, first had to test the freshness of the bagels.
“We did a little experiment,” said Shlafman. “He asked me to send some bagels and he kept them out in a plastic bag to see how long they would last.”
According to Shlafman, they lasted for about six days. As for cream cheese, that was left to the experts at NASA.
So I suppose it’s only a matter of time before Gregory Chamitoff craves a Schwartz’s smoked meat sandwich up there…hopefully they don’t serve it out of a tube.
In less happy news, the aftermath of the largest immigration raid in US history, which happened to the Agriprocessor’s kosher slaughterhouse (the largest in the world), is still being felt. Hundreds of illegal workers, mostly Latin American, were arrested, imprisoned, and pushed through a hasty and cruel justice system. This is after years of allegations of mistreatment, cruelty, and exploitation by their bosses in the Rubashkin kosher meat empire. Now it’s being reported that there was a crystal meth lab in the plant.
Federal authorities charged that a methamphetamine laboratory was operating at the nation’s largest kosher slaughterhouse and that employees carried weapons to work.
The charges were among the most explosive details to emerge following the massive raid Monday at Agriprocessors in Postville, Iowa.
In a 60-page application for a search warrant, federal agents revealed details of their six-month probe of Agriprocessors. The investigation involved 12 federal agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the departments of labor and agriculture.
According to the application, a former plant supervisor told investigators that some 80 percent of the workforce was illegal. They included rabbis responsible for kosher supervision, who the source believed entered the United States from Canada without proper immigration documents. The source did not provide evidence for his suspicion about the rabbis.
The source also claimed to have confronted a human resources manager with Social Security cards from three employees that had the same number. The manager laughed when the matter was raised, the source said.
At least 300 people were arrested Monday during the raid, for which federal authorities had rented an expansive fairground nearby to serve as a processing center for detainees.
The search warrant application said that 697 plant employees were believed to have violated federal laws.
There’s nothing to say here but a big fat oy. Oy for the poor workers exploited, oy for the quality of increasingly poor glatt kosher meat and deli products, and oy for the reputation to kosher food and the Jews. This story just keeps getting worse and worse. Hopefully it will cause some inward looking reflection in the kosher community, and perhaps even swing many mainstream kosher eaters into the arms of the growing ethical kosher food movement. Still, knowing the way the glatt kosher industry operates, I wouldn’t bet on it.
Finally, some straight up good news. It’s been told to me that the Dallas deli and bakery Bagelsteins has opened a branch in Ft. Lauderdale Florida…home to many great bageldelis (a combo of a bagel shop and delicatessen).
5975 n Federal Hwy #103
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida