Burns My Bacon: Jewish Deli Bread
Britannia got our mini-rant series going last month with his admonishment of the salt and pepper shaker filler-uppers, and now I’d like to tell you yell about something else that burns my bacon, er…pastrami.
I think we can all agree that an old-school, New York-style Jewish deli is just about the best place in the world to get a serious sandwich. Pastrami from Katz, corned beef from 2nd Avenue Deli — wherever it is, you know the deal: some form of exquisitely cured beef product piled far beyond reason and then shoved between two slices of bread; mustard, pickles and slaw on the side.
But there’s one thing that has always bugged me about Jewish delis, and I’ve been afraid to ever say it, fearing an outpouring of anger from the traditionalist eaters. But I just can’t stay silent any longer.
Why does their bread have to suck?
I mean, it’s not bad. But it’s far from amazing. Look at that pastrami just oozing out of the sandwich above. Those meager slices of flimsy, untoasted rye bread can barely handle the stuff! And this is exactly how every single Jewish deli I have ever been to serves a sandwich. You might as well go ahead and order a pound of pastrami on a plate. What are you even supposed to do with the mustard? Spread it directly on the meat? It doesn’t work! Yes, I’ll say it: this sandwich does not properly function as a sandwich. It just doesn’t.
Now before you start screaming, I’m aware that delis are first and foremost about the meat. But the very definition of a sandwich is something you can pick up and eat in your hands. Just think: wouldn’t this be a truly amazing sandwich if it was placed on a toasty baguette or an everything bagel? Hell, I’ll take a sub roll — anything would be better than this pathetic, half-hearted nod to bread.
I also get that the deli tradition stems from serving the poor, huddled masses, and that’s why these once-cheap meats weren’t originally served on twice-toasted sesame focaccia, but the big-name delis now charge upwards of $15 for these sandwiches — you’d think they could at least throw in a slice of rye that’s as big as the slices of meat. Why do they continue to go with this poor excuse for bread?
Am I crazy??? Is anyone with me? And more importantly, can anyone point me towards a deli that puts this great meat on an equally deserving slice of bread?
What burns YOUR bacon? Send us your mini-rants on all things edible! firstname.lastname@example.org
(Photo: Gandhu & Sarah)