23 April 2016

Weekend Cooking: Deli Man (Documentary)

Weekend Cooking hosted by www.BethFishReads.comWeekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page.

Review: Deli Man (documentary)Is there anyone who doesn't love a good deli? The only problem is finding one that both provides the expected atmosphere and serves traditional foods with traditional flavors. Erik Anjou's documentary Deli Man introduces us to some the last remaining true delis--and their owners--in New York, Texas (yes!), California, and Toronto.

The film concentrates on the deli culture and what it takes to keep a deli up and running, but Anjou also tells us about the history, the present, and the future (fusion deli?) of the cuisine. I especially loved meeting Ziggy Gruber, who started out as a child working in his grandfather's Manhattan deli, then went to culinary school, and is now a staple of the Houston, Texas, Jewish community.

One of the big takeaways for me was learning about the astonishing decline of the delicatessen since the 1950s. Sure, there are plenty of places to get a corned beef or pastrami sandwich these days, but very few that are still serving in-house cured meats, traditional kugels, chopped liver, kreplach, and hand-sliced nova. It's a sad fact: As the owners of the kosher and Jewish delis age, few younger people are willing to put in the long hours required to keep the food culture alive.

By the end of Deli Man, I had a renewed interest in making more of my grandmothers' recipes. It made me miss so many of the foods of my childhood, which my family ate for Sunday brunch and almost any other time we all got together--happy or sad, holiday or every day.

If you like to eat, if you have interest in food history, and/or if you love a good delicatessen, then you won't want to miss this well-done documentary. Be prepared to crave some good rye bread (impossible to find in my town--sorry, local bakeries and Wegman's). Deli Man is available for streaming on Amazon and perhaps from other sources as well.


Tina 4/23/16, 6:50 AM  

Goodness, I certainly remember old time delis, I mean real ones, from my childhood. Outside the Philly area there was a mom & pop shop. The meats hanging, the variety of cheeses was incredible. And the people who owned it lived above, they knew you and your family when you went in in for sliced meats or a sandwich.

bermudaonion 4/23/16, 7:53 AM  

There was a fantastic deli near us when I was growing up but I've heard it's closed now. This looks fantastic.

nishitak 4/23/16, 8:23 AM  

I am vegetarian and so don't go near delis, but it's sad to hear that they are declining.

Jackie Mc Guinness 4/23/16, 9:29 AM  

I do love a good deli too.
How cool that Toronto was featured in this. I looked it up and I have eaten at Caplansky's food truck, great smoked meat!!!

Margot 4/23/16, 9:58 AM  

The trailer is fantastic and I'm going to watch it. What interests me most about your post is your mention of your grandmother's recipes. I'd love it if you shared one or two with us and/or told some of the stories associated with your family dinners. As you said, this is a dying culture - I'd like to know what it was like at your table as a child. I wonder how different it was from mine.

Beth F 4/23/16, 9:59 AM  

@margot - great idea. I'll have to work on this idea after BEA.

rhonda 4/23/16, 10:59 AM  

Every time we go to my one of our first stops the Carnegie deli matzoh ball soup a brisket or corn beef sandwich heaven.would love to read some of your grandmas recipies .A taste of home always special.

Deb in Hawaii 4/23/16, 11:32 AM  

I saw this documentary a couple of months ago and really enjoyed it--especially Ziggy's story. You definitely are craving deli food by the end of it. ;-)

Vicki 4/23/16, 11:32 AM  

There are a few deli's in nearby towns but I've never been to them. Now I want to go check them out.

I think Margot has a great idea! I'd love for you to post a few recipes your grandmother made and give us a peek into your childhood family meals.

Mae Travels 4/23/16, 12:15 PM  

I don't think deli food is in decline, it's just that so much has become mainstream! Smoked fish, bagels, deli meats... all now enjoyed by way more people than in the past.

best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

Claudia 4/23/16, 12:36 PM  

Growing up in Southern Calif., I don't especially remember old style Delis, but now luckily, we have a good one here in Hilo, Hawaii!

rhapsodyinbooks 4/23/16, 1:45 PM  

I would agree in part with Mae, but also, there is the whole emphasis now on healthier eating, and a lot of deli food is so good because it is so *not* healthy! :--)

Katherine P 4/23/16, 2:41 PM  

This sounds interesting! I don't know much about the old style delis so this sounds really interesting and informative.

Nan 4/23/16, 3:42 PM  

I'll put it in my queue. I'm not a deli fan being a vegetarian who doesn't eat cheese, but it does sadden me to see anything like this going away.

Laurie C 4/23/16, 3:49 PM  

How do you find these great foodie films? I'm going to look for this one. As a suburban child of suburban parents, I didn't grow up going to delis, but I discovered them when I went off to college! I wonder if people don't realize the difference in quality and freshness in getting food at a old-style deli because deli specialties are more widely available now or is it because people who didn't grow up with delis and don't know the culture are afraid they won't know how to order in a deli (scared off by Seinfeld characters like the Soup Nazi)?

Vasilly 4/23/16, 4:24 PM  

After reading your post, I'm going to look around and see which delis are near me. It's time to pay them a visit.

Carole 4/23/16, 4:32 PM  

Thanks for hosting. Have a great week!
Cheers from Carole's Chatter!

The Candid Cover: YA Book Blogger 4/24/16, 8:01 AM  

I don't think there is anything else that rivals my love for delicious food. Well, maybe books. A girl's gotta eat, though. I love a great deli and there is one that often go to near my house. There is such a cozy and warm feeling you get from these places. <3

(Diane) bookchickdi 4/24/16, 2:58 PM  

We are fortunate that we can get good deli in NYC. Nothing beats a good deli sandwich for lunch.

My Cozy Book Nook 4/24/16, 6:53 PM  

Sounds like an excellent documentary!

I still miss living in NYC where authentic delis abound (at least as compared to the Midwest)

Les 4/27/16, 8:41 PM  

Oh, how I miss Fromin's Deli in Santa Monica! I'll have to watch this documentary and see if it's featured. We used to take my mother-in-law every time we visited her when she was living in Reseda, CA. They had the best matzo ball soup and pastrami sandwiches. Sigh. When we lived in San Diego, we'd go to D.Z. Akins and City Deli (the latter has closed permanently). We don't have anything like these traditional delis in Lincoln, Nebraska. :(

Les 5/28/16, 11:17 AM  

I had to come back and thank you for bringing this documentary to my attention. My husband and I watched it a couple of weeks ago and thought it was outstanding! It brought back a lot of memories of eating at some Southern Cal Jewish delis. Thanks again!

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