Save the Deli

The Bagel: A Cultural History

Monday, November 24th, 2008

While I don’t normally go into the subject of bagels (bagels aren’t deli!), I feel like I need to pay the tasty round bread its due.

I’ve always loved bagels. More than any other Jewish food they are a no-brainer. Whether you prefer the massive New York style, the dense/chewy variety from Montrealer, the Toronto twisters, or even the goyish supermarket/cinnamon raisin variety, bagels are win win. They fill, they hold, they sustain, and they comfort. They’re good toasted or plain, with butter or cream cheese or stacked with all sorts of smoked fish, onions, tomato, capers, etc…

My personal favorite is a fresh sesame seed bagel hot from the wood fired oven at Montreal’s St. Viateur bakery. Others have their owns, but what’s important is that bagels are now a ubiquitous global bread, eaten around the world in a way that’s almost disconnected from other Jewish foods.

So it is of no small significance that the definitive cultural history of the bagel was recently published. The Bagel: A Cultural History is the work of British historian and journalist Maria Balinska, and it seeks to dispel many myths about bagel origins in the world.

Obama’s Manny’s Surprise

Saturday, November 22nd, 2008

I ask all of you, especially the guy who spammed me how Obama was going to destroy Israel, how you cannot be exited to have this man leading America?

Do I say this because of his eloquence or good looks?

Because of his calm manner, or his plans to think things through?


Have I succumbed to Obamania because of the peer pressure?

Am I excited because everything George Bush touches turns to shit, and the less he can touch, the less shitty things may be? (ok, a bit on this one)

But principally I’m psyched to live in the United States of Obama because of this:


First Taste of Lansky’s

Monday, November 17th, 2008

With so few delis opening up in New York, those that do are often greatly anticipated. They carry on their shoulders the burden of a city that loves deli but has few outlets for that love. And in Jewish neighborhoods like the Upper West Side, that love, and the few delis to receive it, makes the opening of a new deli there very significant. (more…)

Caplansky’s gets the Kates nod

Monday, November 17th, 2008

One of the things I miss most being here in New York is Caplansky’s, its smoked meat, and Zane, that crazy SOB at the helm who you just can’t help but love.

So it gives me great pleasure to pass along good news from there, which I am thankfully doing often.

On Saturday, the Globe and Mail’s top food critic, Joanne Kates, gave Caplansky’s an overwhelmingly amazing review.

Chicago’s Kaufman’s Stimulus Package

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

Pity poor Hank Paulson.

He let Lehman collapse, took shit for that, then screamed that the U.S. needed massive bailout of AIG, the banks, and the financial sector or else all hell was going to break loose. No oversight, no controls, just give him the money!

They did…shit still broke loose, banks went under, the market tanked, and AIG still found ways to lose billions and pay for junkets.

But now that Obama’s en route to the White House, perhaps the next round of salvation is around the corner. One that affects Main Street, not Wall Street…mom and pop, not the fat cats. And if a solution is coming from the people, than you’d better know it’s coming from the people in Obama’s hometown.

What the hell am I talking about?

Well, I got a great email from my friend Bette Dworkin, owner of her family’s Kaufman’s Bakery and Deli in Skokie, IL. And guess what she’s doing in these tough times? Yep, she’s rolling back prices…a bit of homegrown deli stimulus.

Read on:


Introducing “Lox Populi”

Monday, November 10th, 2008

As a rule, I don’t delve into the world of bagels, dairy, or appetizing often. People too often equate deli with all those things and I try to keep it kosher style…milk and meat separate.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t hold a fondness for great dairy or appetizing, and of the fondnesses that I do hold (?), the fondest is for Russ and Daughters, the legendary appetizing store on New York’s Houston Street. (more…)

Agriprocessors Inc. Files for Bankruptcy

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

The May raid at Agriprocessors, the country’s largest glatt kosher slaughterhouse, has been grabbing headlines for months now. It’s caused many Jews, both observant and non, to confront the ethics of kosher, and whether a standard should address work conditions, as well as the way meat is handled. Agriprocessors has been a blight on the Orthodox community for years, exacerbating negative stereotypes with heinous, selfish, greedy actions. Needless to say it’s caused a lot of turmoil in the Jewish food world, and the deli world (a meaty place) has been no exception.

So now the New York Times is reporting that Agriprocessors Inc., the Iowa slaughterhouse that’s owned and operated by the Rubashkin family, has filed for bankruptcy. I’ll let the pros take it from here:

Large Iowa Meatpacker in Illegal Immigrant Raid Files for Bankruptcy

Published: November 5, 2008

The kosher meatpacking company in Iowa that has been struggling with criminal charges and huge fines for labor violations, a dwindling work force and declining demand among Jewish consumers since an immigration raid at its main plant, has filed for bankruptcy. (more…)

Smorgasbord Day

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

Sometimes, especially after you’ve been screaming “Woooo Obama” in the streets until 2:30 AM, you just want to phone in your blog post.
I’ve had a whole bunch of emails about different deli projects piling up in my inbox, so I’m going to do my best to compile them into one big fat post today.

Vote Deli

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

Due to a strict editorial policy, Save the Deli cannot endorse any candidate for President. That and the fact that I’m Canadian.

But I’ll let the following picture speak for itself.

This is taken in Manny’s Deli in Chicago. Does he look like he’s enjoying that corned beef?

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