Friday, January 1, 2016

Deli documentary scheduled for local showing

A scene from the documentary.
The classic delicatessen many of us patronized in our younger years has been back in the public eye in recent years, no doubt because of the dwindling number of such establishments and the increasing attraction of nostalgia.

Not only have there been stories in major publications, a number of books on the topic have hit the shelves, including "Save the Deli: In Search of Perfect Pastrami, Crusty Rye, and the Heart of Jewish Delicatessen" (by David Sax, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), "America's Great Delis: Recipes and Traditions from Coast to Coast" (by Sheryll Bellman, Sellers Publishing), and one I'm reading -- and enjoying -- right now, "Pastrami on Rye: An Overstuffed History of the Jewish Deli" (by Ted Merwin, New York University Press) that came out in October.

If you can't invest a lot of time in reading through these and similar books right now, you may want to take in a screening of "Deli Man," a documentary on the history and culture of delicatessens in the U.S. It's scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Saturday, January 16, at B'Nai Sholom Reform Congregation, 420 Whitehall Road, Albany. Suggested contribution is $5 per person. Refreshments will be available.

"Deli Man" is a documentary film produced and directed by Erik Greenberg Anjou. It has been shown at numerous venues around the country. It's the third work in his trilogy about Jewish culture, following “A Cantor’s Tale” and “The Klezmatics -- On Holy Ground.”

The contraction in the world of delis can be seen in some statistics from the City of New York’s Department of Public Markets. In 1931, it listed 1,550 kosher delicatessen stores and 150 kosher dairy restaurants in the city's five boroughs. Today, there are approximately 21 kosher and non-kosher delis of the sort that once flourished.

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