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  • Writer's pictureGaili Schoen

The Jewish Deli: An Illustrated Guide to the Chosen Food

The Jewish Deli: An Illustrated Guide to the Chosen Food by Ben Nadler

This love letter to the Jewish deli was a delight to read and has already enhanced my experience of the food I've loved since childhood. It was well-written with just enough history and backstory to whet my appetite, and the illustrations are funny and often enlightening. Nadler's drawings offered a cross-cultural insight showing how the Spanish Empanada, the Indian Samosa, the Chinese Dumpling, the British Pasty and the Jewish Knish are all "dough pockets," variations on a theme beloved by nations worldwide. I loved the "brief history" at the beginning of the book which put the Jewish deli into context for me, and I enjoyed learning the differences between corned beef and pastrami (it's not, as I'd thought, just more fat and pepper!) Not being a New Yorker, I haven't seen or tasted many of the foods in the book, such as some of the smoked and brined fish, the black-and-white cookie, or cel-ray soda, but I will seek them out next time I go to a deli. I didn't know that Montreal has a different sensibility in its deli foods; for example Montreal style bagels are sweetened and are much thinner because they are based on recipes from Russian Jews, while delis in New York have stronger Central and Eastern European influences.

I recommend this illustrated book to all who love a succulent corned beef sandwich on rye with a dill pickle and a side of Matzoh ball soup. I will be giving this fun book to many on my Chanukah gift list this year!

Hardcover, 248 delicious pages


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