A Tribute to Eiran Harris
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My occasional tributes on this site are to deli men, those who make, cook, and serve delicatessen foods because of a love for the tradition, the flavor, and the people who inhabit that world. Today I’d like to make a tribute to a fellow deli lover and researcher such as myself. I’d like to pay tribute to Eiran Harris.
Unless you know the Montreal historical Jewish world well, you probably have never heard of Mr. Harris. He’s a local treasure, and like so much of Montreal’s Jewish world, a treasure that’s buried in a city of nostalgia and forgotten heroes. He was put to my attention by Lara Rabinovitch, a scholar and friend of mine, who suggested I talk to Eiran about deli in Montreal. You see, Eiran Harris may be a volunteer at the archives of Montreal’s Jewish Public Library, but one of his areas of expertise is Montreal Jewish deli history. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of what delis opened when, what they served, why they closed, and who owned them. He’s corrected the histories of Schwartz’s (pegging the opening date correctly), and deflated the myth that Ben’s invented the smoked meat sandwich (it was Hyman Reese Roth, who came from Montreal via a decade of deli owning in New York).
We shared a great meal at Lester’s and talked deli, and though Mr. Harris is many years my senior, his passion is undaunted and incomparable. He’s being paid tribute by the library he loves this month, and I’d like to send my congratulations to him and his family. Mazel Tov.
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