- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Mariner Books; 1 edition (October 1, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0547386443
- ISBN-13: 978-0547386447
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 68 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #350,555 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Save the Deli: In Search of Perfect Pastrami, Crusty Rye, and the Heart of Jewish Delicatessen Paperback – October 1, 2010
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"David Sax is the M. F. K. Fisher of pickled meats. After Save the Deli, you’ll never take a pastrami sandwich for granted again. You’ll also be moved by Sax’s wonderful portrayal of the folks behind the counters, and their fascinating thoughts on cultural identity, the relentless passage of time—and, of course, kreplach."—A. J. Jacobs, author of The Know It All, The Year of Living Biblically, and the forthcoming The Guinea Pig Diaries"Nobody this young should be so smart or know so much about delicatessens. He may go down in history as a Jewish hero, the man who saved rye bread. The kid knows how to eat and he knows how to write. You can't ask for more than that, although a glass of cream soda is always nice." —Alan Richman, author of Fork It Over: The Intrepid Adventures of a Professional Eater
"What if they gave a pastrami on rye and nobody came? Unthinkable? That's what you think. David Sax knows better, and traces the history of the American (and Canadian. And British!) deli-- its arrival, its rise, its potential fall, its possible salvation-- with passion, humor, chutzpah, and tam. Enjoy."-- Ellis Weiner, co-author of Yiddish with Dick and Jane and Oy! Do This, Not That
"A delightful tour of Jewish delicatessens across the nation and abroad, David Sax opens a necessary discussion about the very future of those beloved, yet dwindling, institutions. Save the Deli is a great read."--Ed Koch
"This book is the result of an epic journey, akin to The Odyssey but with Rolaids. With insight, passion, and a digestive system at which one can only marvel, Sax peers between the layers of a pastrami sandwich and glimpses the evolution of community and identity in North America today."--Roger Bennett, author of Bar Mitzvah Disco and Camp Camp
"David Sax's passionate manifesto for sustaining the Jewish deli is so intensely evocative that to read it is like inhaling the aroma of steaming corned beef getting sliced and piled high on glossy-crusted seeded rye, then plated with half-sour pickles and a crisp latke on the side. A voluptuous mitzvah for schmaltzophiles, it also is a singularly practical guide to the best delis from coast to coast and around the world." -- Jane and Michael Stern, authors of 500 Things To Eat Before It's Too Late and Roadfood
“David Sax’s book on delicatessens is an important work. The food is an important part of the Jewish culture. We could not have grown up without it. I totally enjoyed our interview and I must say that the book is a great read for anyone, from the culture conscious to the foodies.” – Fyvush Finkel, (Yiddish theater legend, actor "Picket Fences" and "Boston Public")
“Save the Deli is a Bromo-fueled cri de coeur on behalf of the uniquely Ashkenazic food that keeps its devotees, whether Jewish or not, from going goyish into that good night. Part elegy, part lament, part rallying cry for a generation whose nitrate levels are already dangerously low, David Sax’s book is an unparalleled look at the past, present and possible future of the pastrami, corned beef, smoked meat, kishka and cabbage rolls that have given generations the strength to kvetch and a reason to do so.” – Michael Wex, author of Born to Kvetch
"Just the thought of a book dedicated to the history and cultural importance of Jewish Deli in North American makes my mouth water. And who better to take on the project than passionate writer and adventurer David Sax. His knowledge and experience make him the perfect man for the job. Without a bible like this how will our next generation of eaters know the delight and pure satisfaction of biting into that perfect pastrami on rye, smothered in mustard and accompanied by a full-sour dill pickle?" -- Gail Simmons, Judge on Bravo's Top Chef
"The wandering of the Jews is frozen in the marble of the corned beef on rye. The fall of the Temple, the exile, life in the ghetto, reliance on the cheapest meat and the ensuing need to tenderize and smoke and spice, the crossing to the New World -- it all culminates in the towering sandwich you find at the Carnegie in New York, Junior's in L.A., Manny's in Chicago. . . . In his deeply satisfying new book "Save the Deli: In Search of Perfect Pastrami, Crusty Rye, and the Heart of Jewish Delicatessen," David Sax sets out to tell this story one city, one deli, one tradition at a time . . . tasting and kvetching and chronicling the state of the cuisine, all this activity set against a dread premonition -- that the deli is going away, and the long run is over."—LA Times
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I found that Sax's writing brought the food to life and made the dishes he sampled as much of characters as the deli men he interviewed. I'm not a big deli eater, but I had a craving for noodle kugel, challah, lox and more.
I think the only reason the Canadian deli traditions didn't interest me as much as I'm not that interested in their food scenes. I had a stronger tie to other cities and I think that's why I enjoyed them more. If I didn't know the deli, I often knew the neighborhood. In the case of Stage and Carnegie, I walked past them daily en route to and from work. In addition to the iconic Carnegie, closing at the end of 2016, Jimmy and Drew's in Boulder has also closed since his research trip. Delis truly are dying off. Made me even more grateful for the rebirth of the 2nd Avenue deli and I'm glad both NYC locations are still thriving to this day.
Poland, and the literal death of Jewish culinary traditions in the holocaust was a perfect ending to the original research. How many recipes and deli men had died off in that, the world's largest Jewish cemetery. I wonder where the delis would be today with those six million alive. I can only hope that the resurgence in some midwest cities, as well as Ben's and Katz's here, will keep the tradition alive for another generation.
Thankfully, I live in one of those cities that still has a handful of good, and a couple of great, delis left. Because it only took me about 20 pages to be overcome by the physical need (NEED, I say) for pastrami. Real pastrami.
This book will do it to you. Goodness, how I love it.
All of that still stands, but this is really a lot more than just an ode to delis. It is also a wonderful history of delicatessens and their place in both Jewish and the larger culture. Sax makes some very serious and real connections between the state of the deli and it place in Jewish life and culture. As a goyem, I can only comment from outside, but having cooked at Fox Deli in Indianapolis for several years in the early 1980s, I was privileged to see the place of a great deli )okay, pretty good) deli in a neighborhood and a community. I learned a lot and picked up some great jokes, too. One of the things I learned was an ongoing and continuing love of kosher and kosher-style deli foods. (Here in Chicago, Manny's is what I imagine heaven is imagined to be for people who believe in heaven.)
But I also became aware of how a deli can be a meeting place, unofficial cultural center and melting pot. Sax takes that and turns it into a tribute and elegy here. So while just looking at the cover does make me hungry, there is a lot more here than a travelogue and dining guide. Very much recommended.
Perhaps with this book as a guide to the traveler, the lover of the Jewish cuisine will follow David's footsteps and take a similar trip or follow the Save the Deli site to seek out the spots highlighted in the book. I have worked in Jewish delicatessens here in Detroit and love to take a trip to Southfield MI to visit my favorite deli's. Around the corner in Troy there are a couple of delicatessens that I cater to in order to get a corned beef sandwich. I would like to see some of the other food items on the menu, i.e. Rugelach.
This book may help the deli owner to understand the value of the cuisine and see what other deli owners are faced with in order to save their business. Again, the local deli has the same issue, over priced beef in order to make pastrami just right and a clientele that is not willing to buy a $12 sandwich. This book may inspire the deli owner to take a look at each other and unite in the fight to save the market.
A good quick read and you can salivate all the way.