Saturday, November 28, 2020

For the Love of Pastrami

My earliest memories of a pastrami sandwich were when I was about 7 or 8 years old. My dad took me to a Marie Calendars restaurant in Southern California.

What I remember most of that lunch was how much pastrami they packed on the sandwich. Oh, and the lemon meringue pie I had for dessert.

I never really thought about what goes into creating the amazing thin beef slices that make up the sandwich. All I knew was that I liked it, and if that is what I was craving, nothing else would do.

The Pastrami at the Carnegie Deli

Although the exact origins of this exact style of preserved meat is a bit vague, it seems that the beginnings of pastrami were the work of the Ottoman Turks, according to “The Artisan Jewish Deli at Home.”

Their methods were passed to the Romanians. But most of the ancient world developed a similar method of using salts to preserve meat.

I was with the migration of Romanian Jews that pastrami came to the shores of the New World. They switched from using goose to using cheep American beef in their recipes.

But legend has it that Mr. Sussman Volk made the sandwich famous. He was asked by a Romanian friend to store luggage in his basement while he returned to Romania for an extended visit. In return, the friend shared his family pastrami recipe with Volk. In 1887 Volk began producing pastrami in his New York butcher shop.

It became so popular; he began serving it sliced in sandwiches. He added seating to the shop and turned it into a restaurant.

Today good pastrami can be found in almost any city in the US. 

New York is full of great deli’s; the Carnegie Deli was a landmark for almost 80 years before shuttering its doors in 2016. With their 4-inch-high plie of steaming hot pastrami, they were the king of the sandwich.

In LA, Canter’s Fairfax serves up a meal that is pretty close to the better deli’s in New York.

But for me locally, The Hat Pastrami is the go-to. It’s fast food service, but they do a great job.

No comments:

Post a Comment