Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Portnoy's pastrami

Helen just passed along this article about Israel's first delicatessen. It's bizarre (and I'm not fully convinced) that none existed before, but anything's possible. The traditional Israeli wariness about the Diaspora probably lumps together presumed-self-hatred, 19-year-olds without hot bods, and matzo ball soup, rejecting all of this in the name of creating and sustaining the New Jews. From my perspective as a culinarily-self-hating Ashkenazi, who'd pick Middle Eastern or North African over Russian or Polish any day, I'm not so excited on behalf of Israelis, especially not given how delicious the falafel and schwarma are in Israel. But what's wrong with some variety?

The authenticity police, in the form of deli expert David Sax, have a say: "'Hopefully, they won’t be like the delis in New York but would inspire a local, Israeli version.'" Argh. If this deli is inspired by NY delis, it will be somewhat like the delis in NY. It will not be an exact replica of the shtetl. Or of Katz's, for that matter, but I don't see how a deli in Israel could possibly not have Israeli influence, which leads me to think "local" is just such a food buzzword these days that smug nodding simply will ensue.

Oh, and I love that one of the pro-deli camp is a man named Portnoy! And that he's quoted as saying, "'I love my pastrami.'"

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