Posts Tagged ‘Delicatessens

24
Nov
15

A Conversation with Ted Merwin


TedMrwnAfter a 5 months long hiatus, due to voice issues and more, we will be back this evening at 11:00 pm (Eastern Time) The Kosher Scene Radio Show. Our guest will be Ted Merwin, who is Associate Professor of Religion and Judaic Studies at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania, where he is the Founding Director of the Milton B. Ashell Center for Jewish Life. He writes about Jewish theater, dance, and food for the New York Jewish Week and other major newspapers and magazines.

Professor Merwin is the author of a fascinating new book, Pastrami on Rye – An overstuffed History Of The Jewish Deli. I found it a fascinating read, very informative with just the right amount of nostalgia, a touch of humor and a tremendous love for the subject matter.

The book introduces its subject…

Is anything more emblematic of New York City than the overstuffed pastrami sandwich on rye? The picled and smoked meats sold in storefront Jewish delicatessens starting in the late nineteenth centurybecame part of the heritage of all New Yorkers. But they were, of course, especially important to Jews; the history of the delicatessen is the history of Jews eating themselves into Americans. The skyscraper sandwich became a hallmark of New PastramiYork. But it also became a a potent symbol of affluence, of success, and of the attainment of the American Dream. As the slogan for Reuben’s, an iconic delicatessen in the theater district boasted, “From a sandwich to a national institution.”

The deli became an institution, an institution not only for Jews, but as the book widely attests for many non-Jews as well. Why? As the Introduction continues:

[..]…the pastrami, corned beef, salami, bologna, and tongue that were sold in storefront New York delicatessen became, for a time, a mainstay of the American Jewish diet, taking on a primacy they had never enjoyed in Eastern Jewish culture…

[..]These Jewish eateries were known for the staggering amount and variety of food on display; the delicatessen, in the words of the food historian John Mariani “represented American bounty in its most voluptuou and self indulgent form.” Smoked and pickled meat, from their roots in central and eastern Europe, help a special place even within Jewish “cuisine,” which extended from kreplach (dumplings) and knishes (savory pastries) to kishke (stuffed intestines, also known as stuffed derma)…

My mouth is watering! I can taste and smell it all…

Please listen in this evening to at 11:00 pm (Eastern Time) The Kosher Scene Radio Show for a fascinating conversation about a chapter of Americana and its Jewish roots.

Meanwhile in case you missed it, why not listen to: A Conversation with Beth Warren, MS, RDN, CDN – 2.

We’ll be looking for you, but while we are waiting I better grab some mustard…

CS




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