Meet Diana. She’s a cool lady. Funky Rockabilly hair, a few tatoos, and mad mad knife skills.
For the past little while, Diana has been working at Brooklyn’s Mile End Delicatessen, slicing smoked meat by hand.
Rachel Cohen, the owner of Mile End, along with husband Noah Bernamoff, asked me whether Diana was the only female counterwoman in the deli business. I wracked my brain and am kind of stumped.
I’ve met about a dozen female delicatessen owners, such as Cheryl Morantz at Toronto’s Centre Street Deli, or the Markowitz sisters at Factor’s in LA. I’ve met hundreds of great deli waitresses. But I don’t think I have ever seen a woman slicing deli meat, either by hand, or on a slicing machine.
The world of countermen is very MEN centric. It’s knives and meat and big beefy hands, and is the last bastion of the deli business that’s segregated by sex.
So deli world, let me know, is Diana from Mile End the Sandra Day O’Connor (America’s first female Supreme Court justice) of the deli counter? Has she shattered the schmaltz ceiling? Should we start minting coins in her honor?
Or are there other pioneers out there, now, or before?
Let me know.