by intern Becca Stanger
If you had asked me a few weeks ago, I would have told you that a knish was a new kind of Nerf gun. Apparently, I was utterly ignorant when it came to authentic Jewish delis. I honestly didn’t even know that delis were Jewish. To a born and raised Californian like me, “delis” more or less meant Subway. Or maybe the local Mexican-family-owned sandwich shop where I could get my low-fat turkey and veggie sandwich on whole wheat. Hold the mustard. So reading journalist David Sax’s new book Save the Deli was informative for me, to say the least.
In this book, Sax takes his readers on a whirlwind tour of Jewish delis, from New York City to Kansas City to Krakow. While introducing his readers to this diverse world of reubens and matzo ball soup, Sax recounts the intriguing story of modern delis, describing their historic emergence from the pushcarts of 19th century Eastern European immigrants and their recent decline due to rising health concerns, a changing restaurant industry, and an assimilating Jewish culture.
Sax successfully adds color to this educational tour with his exuberant love for delis. With an engaging voice and corny puns, Sax’s excitement for the “hallowed temple of salted and cured meats” seeps from every page. But be warned – Sax’s passion is so infectious that you may find yourself drooling over the most unlikely of things, including pickled chicken fat and broiled tongue.