Save the Deli

In Search of Perfect Pastrami, Crusty Rye, and the Heart of Jewish Delicatessen

Publisher: Emblem Editions
Part culinary travelogue, part cultural history, Save the Deli is a must-read for anyone whose idea of perfect happiness is tucking into a pastrami on rye with a pickle on the side

Corned beef. Pastrami. Brisket. Matzo balls. Knishes. Mustard and rye. In this book about Jewish delicatessens, about deli’s history and characters, its greatest triumphs, spectacular failures, and ultimately the very future of its existence, David Sax goes deep into the world of the Jewish deli. He explores the histories and experiences of the immigrant counterman and kvetching customer; examines the pressures that many delis face; and enjoys the food that is deli’s signature.

In New York and Chicago, Florida, L.A., Montreal, Toronto, Paris, and beyond, Sax strives to answer the question, Can Jewish deli thrive, and if so, how? Funny, poignant, and impeccably written, Save the Deli is the story of one man’s search to save a defining element of a culture — and the sandwiches — he loves.


From the Hardcover edition.

READ AN EXCERPT

Next! Behind the Counter at Katz's Delicatessen
 
 
8:14 P.M.: Basic Training
Charlie held out a white kitchen apron and a brand-new red Katz's Delicatessen baseball hat. I tied the apron on and slipped the hat onto my head.
 
"Okay," Charlie said, "follow me."...
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PRAISE FOR

"David Sax is the MFK 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 and The Year of Living Biblically

“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

“[A] passionate manifesto … intensely evocative.”
— Jane and Michael Stern, authors of Roadfood

“A Bromo-fueled cri de coeur on behalf of the uniquely Ashkenazic food that keeps its devotees … from going goyish into that good night.”
— Michael Wex, author of Just Say Nu

“An epic journey, akin to the Odyssey but with Rolaids.”
— Roger Bennett, author of Bar Mitzvah Disco

"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, author of Yiddish with Dick and Jane

"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

“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)

"Just the thought of a book dedicated to the history and cultural importance of Jewish Deli 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, editor Food and Wine and judge on "Top Chef"


From the Hardcover edition.